Friday, March 12, 2010

U.S. Census Forms are in the Mail


March 11, 2010


Fill it out, mail it back. It’s easy, safe, and important to the state.

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. This is the easiest way to participate in the census that takes place every decade, as required by the U.S. Constitution.

“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. That translates into political power and needed federal funding for the state.”

Hatcher noted that 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.

April 1 is Census Day, the reference day for the population count. 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. You should not wait until April 1 to return the census form but return it immediately upon receipt. On May 1, census takers will begin collecting information from households that did not return the form.

Census results are important. They 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. The funds go for such things as 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.”

The census is safe; federal law protects personal census information. Title 13 of the U.S. Code prohibits sharing personal data 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.

For help in completing the census form, call the toll-free Telephone Questionnaire Help Line at 1-866-872-6868. Spanish speakers can call 1-866-928-2010. Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs) also are opening across the state to assist people. Language Assistance Guides will be available in 59 languages at the QACs, and callers can get a census form in one of six languages. QAC locations will be posted March 18 at


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