Census worker Anna Arroyo takes calls about the census at City Hall in Reading, Pennsylvania, on September 1.

This is what could happen if the 2020 census fails to count everyone in the US

Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT) September 14, 2020

(CNN)If the 2020 census fails to count everyone in the US, experts warn that the consequences will be serious, widespread and long-lasting.

The census is the basis for determining how many representatives each state gets in Congress and how an estimated 1.5 trillion dollars in federal funding are spent. It only happens once every 10 years.
And time is running out to get it right.
So if you haven't had a chance to follow what's going on with the 2020 count, now is the time to take notice -- because no matter where you live in the US, many important things in your community are at stake.
Three ways to participate in the 2020 census

Census workers are currently visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 census. US households that haven't responded to the census can still do so by:

• Responding online at 2020census.gov

• Responding by phone at 844-330-2020

• Completing and mailing back paper questionnaires

More information is available on the US Census Bureau website.

"The census, when you boil it down, is about two things: It's about power and it's about money," says Jeff Robbins, a census administrator for the city of Mesa, Arizona.
And one thing, Robbins says, is keeping him awake at night: "What happens when we run out of time, and not everybody's counted?"
Currently, the count is scheduled to end September 30. Legal battles are raging over a series of last-minute changes to the census. And groups across the country are scrambling to boost response rates before it's too late.
Some Los Angeles restaurants recently distributed free meal vouchers in an effort to boost census response rates.
Census officials maintain they're committed to producing a complete and accurate count. And a top official for the agency said in a recent court declaration that the bureau is on track to do so.
But demographics experts, local officials and advocacy groups have a lot of concerns that this year's tally won't be accurate, because a pandemic and politics got in the way. They're raising alarm bells that a significant undercount is likely.
If that happens, here are some of the key things at risk:

States could lose representatives in Congress

The 2020 census could have a big impact on the balance of political power. Census data is used to determine how many seats states get in Congress, and to draw redistricting maps.