The 2010 Census forms started arriving at American households in mid-March with postage included to mail back the forms to the Census Bureau. And, although April 1st is most known for being April Fool’s Day, it’s also National Census Day — the recommended date to send in the census forms.
The Framers of the Constitution were actually the first to introduce the idea of the census. Article 1, Section 2 states, â€śThe actual enumeration shall be made within three [y]ears after the first [m]eeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten [y]ears, in such [m]anner as they shall by Law direct.â€ť This mandates that the census be conducted every 10 years, which it has been done so 22 times prior to the 2010 Census.
The census is intended to count the population of the entire nation. Everybody living in the United States is counted in the census, including international students, illegal immigrants, and other non-citizens. And, if you’re away at college or you have a kid away at college, then be aware that college students receive a separate form on campus or other places of residence off campus, so there’s no need to include them on the household form.
And, exhibiting the modernity of today’s present society, the 2010 census form includes for the first time the option for same-sex married couples to state that on the form. This is irrespective of whether they are actually legally married and whether the state they reside in permits their marriage.
A tangible, real purpose of the census is to allocate more than â€ś$400 billion of federal funding each yearâ€ť to fund schools, hospitals, public works projects, emergency services, job training centers, and senior centers.
Additionally, the census data determines the number of seats that each state occupies in the House of Representatives based on the stateâ€™s population, which in turn affects the weight and importance of each state in the Electoral College, the complex system of electing a president every four years. Basically, the disparity in population between states determines the amount of electoral votes each state receives, which is why California has 55 electoral votes in comparison to Hawaii, which only has 4 electoral votes.
Many Southern and Western states stand to gain political clout at the expense of their Northern and Midwestern counterparts as the nationâ€™s population moves westward and southward. Texas, Arizona, and Nevada are among the top five states that added the most people to their total population between 2000 and 2009. However, all final conclusions are pending the results of the 2010 Census.
Of course,Â a massive operation intended to collect the nation’s demographic information takes money. The cost of the 2010 Census will be approximately a whopping $15 billion. The Census Bureau estimates that two-thirds of the overall costs go toward sending out enumerators to each household that does not respond by mail. Consequently, it would be cheaper for everyone to spend only about 10 minutes to complete and mail back the 10-question form, which would only costs the government 42 cents each. When people are non-compliant by not mailing back the form, that figure can balloon to $57 per household, which is clearly a less fiscally responsible option.
And, of course, there are real consequences for those that opt out of accurately completing the census. The Census Bureau can fine households up to $100 for not participating in the census and up to $500 for providing false information.
So far, many officials are alarmed about the low rates of return in some states that stand to gain the most from residents sending their completed forms back to the government. According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas, a state that could gain as many as four congressional seats, had only received 27% completed forms from its residents, well below the national average of 34% as of March 26, 2010. Some elected officials in Texas are starting to believe that many anti-government conservatives may not be filling out their forms as a form of protest against the government. Unfortunately, what these residents donâ€™t understand is that by not filling out and returning the census forms, they hurt their districts, their state, and themselves. For every resident missed, the state loses out on approximately $12,000 over the next decade, resulting in â€śhundreds of millions of dollars in lost opportunities,â€ť according to Frances Deviney, director of Texas Kids Count.
Simply taking a few minutes to comply can help your local district, community, and state receive funds for infrastructures and services. So, are you ready for National Census Day tomorrow; have you filled out and sent your census form back to the government?
Posted by Hasan on March 31, 2010 at 2:22pm.