The Oklahoman: Future in Your Hands (Op-Ed by Rep. Lucas)

Mar 07, 2010
In The News

"Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State.”

MultimediaPhotoview all photos — U.S. Constitution

After much planning and discussion, the 2010 census is upon us. Many of you have already begun receiving your census form in the mail and every household in the state of Oklahoma will have received one by the end of this month.

Unlike the somewhat onerous forms from the 2000 census, this year the census forms have been shortened to just 10 questions that can be answered in about 10 minutes or less. The Census Bureau has asked that you fill out your form to reflect the makeup of your household on April 1, 2010, and mail it back as quickly as possible. Those who have not responded by April 1 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 many Oklahomans might be a bit wary of turning their private information over to the Census Bureau. As our federal government continues to dramatically expand the role it plays in our personal lives and in private industry, their concerns are understandable. However, census data is kept strictly private and isn’t 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. If you have more questions about the privacy rules of the census, please visit the Census Bureau’s Web site at www.2010census.gov and select "Protecting Your Answers.”

Filling out this census form is one of the most important things you will do this year to help your family, friends and neighbors. In addition to apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives as required by the Constitution, the census helps to establish state Senate districts, state House districts and even some county commissioner lines.

Even more important, the census 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. It’s that important.

I would like to strongly encourage each of you to fulfill your constitutional duty and fill out your census questionnaire when it arrives this month. The future of Oklahoma is in your hands!

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