The census matters

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The 2010 Census questionnaire will arrive at households throughout Virginia from March 15 through 17.  Census Bureau officials ask you to watch for the 10-question form, fill it out and mail it back immediately in the provided, postage-paid envelope. Doing this will save time and money. 

    “If the people of Virginia complete the census form and return it quickly, then we won’t have to go out, knock on doors, and collect the information,” said William W. Hatcher, regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau. “Returning completed questionnaires saves taxpayer money and increases the likelihood of a full count.”

    And what does that mean? “Political power and needed federal funding for the state,” according to Hatcher.

    For every 1 percentage point increase in mail returns of the census form nationwide, taxpayers save about $85 million in cost of sending census takers door-to-door to collect census information. By filling it out we can teach the government something about saving money.

    Every person living in a residence should be listed on the census form, including relatives and nonrelatives, as of April 1. People should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time.  Don’t wait until April 1 to return the census form; return it immediately upon receipt, because on May 1, census takers will begin collecting information from households that did not return the form.

    So why make the effort?

    The Census  are used to determine each state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to redraw state and local voting districts.  More than $400 billion in federal funds is distributed annually through state, local and tribal governments to communities each year based on population data, including funding for schools, hospitals, transportation projects, roads, job training programs and emergency-response tools. 

    “It’s a win-win situation when people answer the census and mail back the questionnaire,” Hatcher said. “It’s vital that everyone be counted once and in the right place.”

    Federal law protects personal census information.  It can’t be shared with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. Census employees are sworn to secrecy for life and face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or five years imprisonment for violating the oath. Federal law also requires census participation.

     Need help with the census form? Call the Help Line at 1-866-872-6868.