Next census around corner
Published 1:06 am Wednesday, August 26, 2009
First, thank you to the many people who took time from their busy schedules to attend one of the 19 town meetings my staff and I held throughout the First District last week.
Unprecedented crowds attended each meeting. In fact, Mobile’s Press-Register determined that as many as 2,000 people attended the four town meetings in Mobile County.
While many of the questions at these meetings surrounded the House Democrats’ proposed health care plan, questions were also asked about the 2010 Census and the penalties for not participating.
As laid out in the Constitution, every 10 years each person living in the United States must be counted.
The main purpose of the census is to determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College. Census data are also used to determine the need for social services, block grants, and other grant programs.
Next spring, more than 130 million addresses across the country will receive a census form to be completed and returned to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Participation in the census is vital for the count to be accurate, and it is required by law. Citizens are obligated to respond to the census just as they are required to respond to jury duty, pay taxes and report income and obtain a driver’s license.
The fine for neglecting to complete the questionnaire or answer questions posed by census takers ranges from $100 to $5,000. The maximum penalty was increased in 1984 to $5,000 as part of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984.
The census form will arrive in your mailbox in March 2010. There are 10 questions, and it will take about 10 minutes to complete. Census Day is April 1, 2010, and all questionnaire responses should represent the household as it exists on this day.
As you complete your form, please keep in mind that by law, the Census Bureau cannot share your personal information with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities.
Census workers will be required to visit households that do not return questionnaires.
For more information on the 2010 census, you can visit www.2010census.gov.
Jo Bonner represents Escambia County in the U.S. House of Representatives.