Even though it is still more than three months away, the 2010 Census is fast approaching. The U.S. Census Bureau already has begun setting up regional and field offices across our great nation and between now and next April, the U.S. Census Bureau will hire about 700,000 temporary workers to assist with the census. The federal government has established a Web site, www.2010census.gov, to assist with questions about the census and I also have set up a page with information about the census on my Web site www.house.gov/lucas.
So what’s the big deal?
In addition to apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives as required by the U.S. Constitution, the census also determines the distribution of $400 billion in federal funds per year, it helps to establish state senate and house districts as well as county commissioner lines, and it even is used to distribute some state funds.
This year, the census has been shortened to only 10 questions that should take just about 10 minutes to answer. You will start to receive the questionnaire in your homes in March. There is one census per household, not per person, so each person in the household should be accounted for on the questionnaire. In addition, all 10 questions must be answered in order for the census to be counted. The Census Bureau has asked that you fill them out to reflect your current situation on April 1 and that you mail it back by that date. Those who have not responded by this date may be visited by a Census Bureau counter. These are people from your own communities — many of whom are your friends and family — who are working with the Census Bureau to ensure that every Oklahoman is counted.
I know that many people are concerned about their privacy, as am I. However, census data is kept strictly private and is not shared with any other government agency for 72 years. After that, it is sent to the National Archives and made public, primarily for genealogical research. If you have questions about this, you can visit www.2010census.gov/privacy.
I would like to strongly encourage each and every one of you to take the time to fill out your census questionnaire when it arrives in your mailbox next March. After the last census, Oklahoma lost one of its seats in Congress and we must all ensure that does not happen again. Remember, the future of Oklahoma is in your hands.
REP. FRANK LUCAS represents Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. For more Frankly Speakings, visit Rep. Lucas’ Blog at https://www.house.gov/lucas/frankly-speaking/index.shtml.