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Archive for Sunday, March 7, 2010

Census forms coming soon to a mailbox near you

March 7, 2010

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Prepare to be counted.

Every household in America soon will be contacted by the U.S. Census Bureau as part of the 2010 Census. The goal is to count all 310 million Americans, or whatever the number is these days. (That’s kind of the point.)

As you prepare to be tallied, here’s some information to know.

Nearly every household in Douglas County should expect to receive a questionnaire from the Census Bureau between March 15 and March 17. Expect to receive the questionnaire via the U.S. Postal Service in an envelope clearly labeled Census. Don’t throw it away.

If you do throw it away — or don’t fill it out and mail it back — a worker from the U.S. Census Bureau — they’ll have I.D. badges to show you — will come knocking on your door after May 1 to ask you to fill out the form. For every 1 percent of Americans who don’t send in the form, and thus require the knock on the door, it costs the Census Bureau an additional $85 million, said Rich Gerdes, assistant regional Census manager.

Everybody will receive the same form, and it is short. Each household is asked 10 basic demographic questions such as age, race and gender. The traditional “long form,” which asks about everything from how much you make to how many miles you drive to work, is now handled through a different process. Gerdes estimates it should take people about 10 minutes to fill out the new Census form.

A self-addressed stamped envelope should be included with the packet you receive in the mail. If you lose the form, go to Census.gov to find a local location that has forms to distribute.

Don’t spend your time looking for a Web site that lets you fill out the information online. Doesn’t exist. The Census is a paper operation. “We’ve looked into Web options, but there are just security issues we have with that,” Gerdes said.

University students should fill out the form. Despite what you think you may know, Kansas University students really are supposed to be counted as part of Lawrence’s population.

People who have more than one home — like students sometimes do — are supposed to fill out the form for the address where they reside the majority of the year.

The Census aims to count all residents. Whether a person is a U.S. citizen, an illegal alien or here on a work visa, the Census wants to count them as part of the country’s population.

All information obtained is confidential. Gerdes said federal law bars the Census from sharing individual information with other government agencies or anyone else. Even law enforcement agents are unable to obtain the information via warrant.

A favorite Census Bureau story: During the Truman administration, the Secret Service sought information about people who lived near the president. The Census Bureau refused to release information. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Census Bureau won.

Comments

Stuart Evans 4 years, 9 months ago

you may have been specially selected to do a long form. or maybe you live in a remote wilderness area. or maybe it wasn't a real census form but a visit by the FBI looking into your criminal wrongdoings.

actually i don't know why. seems odd.

prairierose54 4 years, 9 months ago

Mine was left in a plastic bag hanging on my mailbox yesterday.

I live in the country.

SouthWestKs 4 years, 9 months ago

Remember the CONSTITUTION says all you have to tell them is how many people live at that address, nothing more..

Jimo 4 years, 9 months ago

"Remember the constitution says all you have to tell them is how many people live at that address, nothing more."

Errrr....no. No more than it limits the military to the Army and Navy, making the Marines and the Air Force (& CG) part of an unconstitutional plot to impose one world government on us and take away our liberties...or something like that.

Something tells me you haven't even a passing familiarity with the constitution (like most expounding wacko theories).

Larry Bauerle 4 years, 9 months ago

Wow. Paranoia is rampant. SouthwestKs--there is nothing else to do in sw kansas. Take time to actually read the constitution.

SnakeFist 4 years, 9 months ago

Jimo: While its true that the Constitution doesn't expressly preclude the census from seeking additional information, the Bill of Rights (for example, the Fourth Amendment) clearly seeks to limit the intrusiveness of government; hence the Supreme Court's finding of an implied Right to Privacy. In that light, there is a very legitimate argument that the Census Bureau cannot demand information to which it is not expressly entitled.

You may recall the outrage against the intrusiveness of the long form during the last census. The Census Bureau responded by sending the long form more frequently but to very small numbers of people (50,000 at a time, I believe) to avoid a large outcry. I received it a couple of years ago and refused to answer the absolutely outrageous questions. Although I was visited twice by very courteous Bureau personnel, they eventually gave up. Frankly, the information they were looking for could be obtained in much less intrusive ways (for example, mechanically count cars on the highway instead of asking me when I leave for work or how far I drive). Furthermore, I don't trust the government to keep my information confidential (how often do we hear of govenrment employees losing data?). Lastly, I think they don't push the issue too far because they know they're on Constitutionally thin ice, at least with the long form.

corduroypants 4 years, 9 months ago

It's easy to be paranoid when everyone's out to get you.

headdoctor 4 years, 9 months ago

Heh, heh. Maybe Stephen King wasn't to far off. "Perfect paranoia is perfect awareness".

bearded_gnome 4 years, 9 months ago

Furthermore, I don't trust the government to keep my information confidential (how often do we hear of govenrment employees losing data?). Lastly, I think they don't push the issue too far because they know they're on Constitutionally thin ice,

---uh, the census had initially planned to hire ACORN! they are full of ex-cons. plus with vote fraud charges against them in over a dozen states, how accurate would an ACORN census be? if they'd hire ACORN, who else whould they hire???

Jimo 4 years, 9 months ago

"In that light, there is a very legitimate argument that the Census Bureau cannot demand information to which it is not expressly entitled."

Uhhh...not in legal circles there's not. Perhaps wingnut radio. Just because some nutjob complains does not make a "controversy" spring into existence.

And the 4th Amendment? That's about as lame and laughable theory as any I've ever heard. You could construct a "privacy" argument about the census (you'd be wrong but you could try) but not using the 4th Amendment.

And finally, perhaps I'm over-reading you, but most 'census-ers' tend to take a very extreme view of constitutional interpretation, one that would be allergic to "right to privacy" claims being found anywhere in the Constitution. So, how strange that a 'census-er' would invoke such an argument.

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