“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
Even though it is still more than three months away, the 2010 Census is fast approaching. The U.S. Census Bureau has already begun setting up regional and field offices across our great nation and between now and next April, the U.S. Census Bureau will hire around 700,000 temporary workers to assist with the census. The federal government has established a website, www.2010census.gov, to assist with questions about the census and I have also set up a page with information about the census on my website www.house.gov/lucas.
So what’s the big deal?
In addition to apportioning seats in the United States 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 ten questions that should take just about ten minutes to answer. You will start to receive the questionnaire in your homes in March 2010. 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 ten 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, 2010 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.