Article I, Section 2 of our Constitution of the United States calls for an “actual enumeration” of the people every 10 years. The world’s oldest periodic Census was initiated under the direction of Thomas Jefferson, who served as President George Washington’s first Secretary of State.
In 1790, the entire population of the United States numbered just under four million citizens. The Census Bureau reported that the population of the United States on April 1, 2000 was 281,421,906. Today, it is estimated to be over 309 million.
A complete and accurate Census is important to all Americans for several reasons. Census data not only influences the funding of many federal programs; it also determines the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the number of votes for each state in the Electoral College during presidential elections. An accurate count is especially important to states like Ohio, which lost a congressional seat after the 2000 Census, and could possibly lose two more seats in Congress.
The 2010 Census is quick, safe, and easy to complete, and the survey contains only 10 questions -- almost as short as the 1790 Census. All Census information is confidential, and federal law prohibits personal information obtained through the Census from being shared with other government agencies or private entities. [To protect the integrity of the Census and to avoid any confusion caused by mailers that resemble official Census documents, I recently voted in favor of the Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act (HR 4621). This bipartisan legislation reinforces current law against deceptive mail practices by requiring mail pieces to include a disclaimer stating that it is not affiliated with the federal Census. President Obama signed the bill on April 7, 2010.]
Next month, Census workers will visit all households that have not returned a Census form. Citizens can help lower the cost of these follow-up visits and save significant tax dollars by completing their forms by mail and returning them in a timely manner. It costs the Census Bureau $57 dollars to send a worker to households that fail to return their form, compared to 42 cents for each form that is returned by mail. In fact, according to Robert Groves, the Director of the Census Bureau, the federal government will save $85 million for every percentage increase in the “mail participation rate” – the number of residents who fill out their forms and mail them back.
As of Tuesday, April 13th, the national participation rate was 66 percent -- well below the 72 percent participation rate of the 2000 Census. Ohio’s participation rate was 71 percent. I am pleased that citizens in each of the four counties that make up the Third Congressional District have returned their Census forms at percentage rates above the national average.
If your household has not received a 2010 Census form in the mail, you should contact the 2010 Census toll-free help line at 1-866-872-6868, or 1-866-783-2010 for the hearing impaired. You can also get Census information and pick up a form by visiting your local public library.
To learn more about the Census and to keep track of the latest national and local participation rates, visit the 2010 Census website at: http://2010.census.gov.
It’s not too late to be counted, so I encourage all Ohioans to fulfill this important civic duty by participating in the 2010 Census.