Every 10 years, people in America are counted. Participating in the U.S. Census is so important that there is the threat of some hefty fines for those that don't.

Up until the mid-1970s, a person could be thrown in prison for refusing to answer questions, and face up to one year behind bars for lying on the census, according to the American Bar Association.

While the government doesn't enthusiastically fine people who don't want to take the census, technically people who purposely avoid answering questions can face a fine of up to $5,000.

Listen to The Rock and Fox Show speak with New Bedford's Census Outreach Coordinator Lynn Coish:

For someone like me, I view the census as a gift to future generations. Genealogy is one of my hobbies. My daughter and I have traced our "Rock" last name back to a small farming village in central Ireland. We would never have been able to do this without the help of the U.S. Census. It is like peeking into history when you see the names of much older relatives. Seeing my grandfather listed as a two-year-old boy, living with his sisters and his parents in the same house that he lived his entire life, was incredible. It seems surreal to think of your grandfather as a two-year-old, but here's black and white proof that he really was a toddler at one time.

More importantly, the U.S. Census acts as a measuring tool to figure out each state's population. The higher the population, the more representation a state will receive in Congress. In fact, Massachusetts lost a congressional seat after the 2010 census results were published. This meant one fewer vote from Massachusetts for the past 10 years. That is pretty significant.

The census also helps dole out government funding where it is needed the most.

Luckily, it has never been easier to fill out the U.S. Census. For the first time, people can fill out the census online at 2020census.gov.

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