1. Florida Politics

With 2020 Census a year away, Hillsborough County urges residents to participate

With exactly a year to go until the 2020 Census, government officials across the country held rallies, press conferences and town halls on Monday urging residents to help their communities secure a bigger piece of the federal funding pie. [Associated Press (2018)]
Published Apr. 2

TAMPA — With exactly a year to go until the decennial count of the nation's population, government officials across the country held rallies, press conferences and town halls on Monday urging residents to help their communities secure a bigger piece of the federal funding pie.

Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Les Miller followed suit, delivering an impassioned plea for all residents to participate in next year's U.S. Census count on April 1, 2020. The collected population data determines redistricting for state and local governments, the number of congressional seats available to each state and, perhaps most importantly, cements how and where and estimated $675 billion in federal funding will be spent over the next decade, Miller said.

But even a year out from Census Day, nationwide efforts to boost participation were delivered under a cloud of confusion created by the proposed addition of a citizenship question to next year's census questionnaire, asking respondents to divulge how many members of their household are legal U.S. Citizens. The controversial question has drawn scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers and immigrant rights groups, as well as lawsuits from some states who argue its inclusion will result in an under-count among immigrant-heavy states like Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the citizenship question's inclusion by the end of June.

"It's a difficult question," Miller said Monday. "There are a lot of people that may not want to do it because of the mere fact that they feel they might be putting themselves in jeopardy, and that's unfortunate. But it's up to the courts to rule on that. Hopefully in the next couple of months we'll get the all clear, and people won't feel deterred to participate."

Census questionnaires are completely self reported, but leaving some questions unanswered could result in some respondents getting left out of the population count, said the U.S. Census Bureau's Central Florida Partnership Specialist Ana Curas. Federal law protects all personal information submitted on census questionnaires, she said.

"It only comes out as statistics," Curas said. "No agency is able to get personal information."

The upcoming census will be the first conducted primarily online, with forms in multiple languages, said Curas. Census questionnaires can also be submitted by phone or by mail, she said. Miller will lead those efforts as chairman of Hillsborough County's "Complete Count Committee" ‑— a volunteer group of government and community leaders working alongside census bureau personnel to ensure that every county resident completes their census questionnaire.

About 72 percent of Florida residents participated in the 2010 Census, a big enough turnout for the state to win two additional seats in Congress and two more Electoral College votes in the 2012 election, Miller said. Since then, the state's population has continued to climb at a rate of about 13.3 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, putting Florida on track to surpass New York as the third largest state in the country.

Hillsborough County has seen a steady stream of that growth, where the population continues to increase by an average 17,000 people each year, Miller said. Already, the county's estimated population is about 1.5 million people — surpassing the total populations of 10 U.S. States.

"That's a lot of people, and if this growth continues we need to make sure that we have the support we need to ensure that every person within Hillsborough County gets the services they need," Miller said. "There's not one person that we can afford to miss."

Contact Anastasia Dawson at or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.


  1. President Donald Trump speaks at the Economic Club of New York at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    The explanation gets complicated.
  2. Jomari DeLeon, is pictured at at Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida August 7, 2019. Jomari is three years into a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking. She sold 48 tablets of prescription tablets over two days to an undercover officer. JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times
    Florida lawmakers agreed the state’s old drug sentencing laws went too far. But that means nothing to people serving time.
  3. Sen. Travis Hutson presents his Job Growth Grant Fund legislation to the Senate Education Committee on Nov. 12, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The original version would have targeted charter schools only.
  4. Florida Senator Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, was the sponsor of a law that was to go into effect Friday that would have created new requirements for abortion doctors that could have limited the number of clinics. But the U.S. Supreme Court threw out similar Texas restrictions, raising doubt about the fate of Florida's new law. [Scott Keeler | Times]
    The delay, which kicks a vote on the bill into mid-December, could stall what may be one of state lawmakers’ most contentious decisions on a political live wire going into a presidential election...
  5. A flag supporting President Donald Trump flutters near the University of Florida's Century Tower before an Oct. 10 appearance on campus by Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. A controversy over the political nature of the event has led to calls for the impeachment of Student Body President Michael C. Murphy, who helped set it up. Courtesy of Chris Day
    A push to oust Student Body President Michael Murphy comes after an email surfaces, suggesting he worked with the Trump campaign to bring a political speech to campus.
  6. Morton Myers, 40, is an entrepreneur, a lifelong Clearwater resident and now a candidate for mayor who comes from a family of Scientologists. He says he is not a practicing Scientologist and is running to bring change and representation to all residents. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Morton Myers says he’s not an active member. But with family on Scientology’s staff, he says he’s uniquely positioned to find middle ground with the church.
  7. FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 file photo, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, after meeting with President Donald Trump about about responses to school shootings. Bondi is preparing to defend Trump against accusations that he pressured a foreign government to aid his re-election campaign. And she’s stepping down from a lobbying where she represented foreign interests (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    “People are going to discover all over again what Pam Bondi’s made of,” says the consultant who engineered her foray into politics 10 years ago.
  8. President Donald Trump speaks at New York City's 100th annual Veterans Day parade, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) SETH WENIG  |  AP
    Trump will speak at the Hollywood summit on Saturday, Dec. 7 before traveling to Orlando for the Florida GOP’s Statesman’s Dinner, the Republican Party of Florida’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
  9. President Donald Trump speaks in front of a painting of former President George Washington in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington on Oct. 27. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Trump pointed to Washington as precedent for an active businessman serving as president.
  10. The Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway was built in Tampa as toll road. Commissioners are divided over an elevated toll road proposed for southern Pasco.
    After frustration about their oversight of three potential new toll roads, the department moved up their timeline for scrutinizing the projects.