“Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State.”
-The United States Constitution
The 2010 census is upon us. Many if not most of you have already received your questionnaire in the mail and the U.S. Census Bureau has already begun receiving responses. When I am home in the district, whether it’s at the local baseball game or during one of my 50 town halls, people express their concerns or ask questions about the census. I want to take this opportunity to cover some of the issues.
First, the most important thing to remember is that the census is your constitutional duty – your responsibility not only to your government but also to your friends and neighbors. In addition to apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the census also determines the distribution of $400 billion in federal funds per year and even the distribution of some state funds. So, without your participation, billions of dollars that we need in Oklahoma for road repairs and school construction could go to another state.
Some of you have asked about the form itself. I remember the ‘short form’ and ‘long form’ from the 2000 census. I, myself, received the ‘long form,’ where they wanted to know everything from my income, to the kind of car I drive, even the kind of stove I have in my house! It was somewhat invasive, incredibly complicated to fill out, and deterred many responses. The 2010 census will only have ten questions that should take about ten short minutes to answer – very general information about your household. I will let you know that a random sample of addresses also received an American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is not the 2010 census – it is an addition survey being used by the U.S. Census Bureau to learn more about our country’s population. However, like the 2010 census form, a response is required.
In this day and age where our federal government continues to dramatically expand the role they play in our personal lives, people have an inherent concern about sharing their personal information, and many have expressed concerned about releasing their private information to the U.S. Census Bureau. 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 so that your grandchildren and great-grandchildren can learn more about you and your family. You can learn more about the privacy rules for the census by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau’s website at www.2010census.gov and select “Protecting Your Answers.”
I would like to strongly encourage each and every one of you to fill out your census form and return it to the U.S. Census Bureau by April 1st. If you have any further questions about the census, plese contact Lynn Hill in my Canadian County office at 405-373-1958.