Why Use Advance Letters?

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

In these days of concerns over spending by the Federal government, I am not surprised by emails I receive questioning why the Census Bureau sends out letters in a separate mailing in advance of the 2010 Census form package.

This is a practice that was the clear conclusion of prior research, both at the Census Bureau and at private sector survey research organizations. The advance letter we send before the questionnaire packet is an attempt to politely announce the forthcoming request to complete the census form. It functions to ask the household to be on the watch for the package when it comes. It functions to verify that the upcoming request will be a legitimate one from the official agency conducting the 2010 Census.

Years of research have shown that higher percentages of people receiving the mail questionnaire return a completed form after they receive the advance letter compared to those who receive merely the census form with a simultaneous request to return it. Every one percent of the US households that return a completed questionnaire will save $85 million in taxpayer money that would have to be spent sending people out to interview households in person. The research is clear that the advance letter can save money for all of us.

The advance letter is also a way for us to protect the American public from any scams that use the census to exploit people. The scam artists don’t take the time, nor do they exercise the courtesy that we do, to alert the households of an upcoming request.

This feature of the 2010 Census is a cost-saver in the long run.

Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to ask.census.gov.

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69 Responses to Why Use Advance Letters?

  1. Mark says:

    I accept this as true. People don’t like surprises. It is somehow tied to that part of the brain that subconsciously thinks, ‘you give me something, I’ll give back’. Even though an advance letter is not really giving, it opens that compartment of the brain to think “I know am comfortable with this, I am not threatened, and I’ll be charitable and give bsck”.

  2. Dr Data says:

    Lots of interesting entries. I’m printing these out and mailing them to my 89 year old dad for his March letter. He’s also getting a sample census questionnaire and some nice maps from the 2000 census.

  3. Sandra Marvin says:

    You people spend more money on research and surveys just because you don’t think the American People know how to think for themselves.
    STOP WASTING OUR MONEY….. I don’t care how many surveys you run…. or polls you take….. we all know you can make such research/polls reflect whatever you want!
    Whatever happened to Common Sense????

  4. James Robertson says:

    I believe this is just a way of rationalizing and justifying a bad decision to waste money on advance letters. Why not show a little courage, admit it is a waste and stop the practice.

  5. Alice Daughters says:

    How much is spent sending this advance letter? It is still truly stupid. You don’t think that the person would not return the census if not told they would be getting it? I believe the person who will fill out the census WOULD fill it out without a additional letter. Such a waste no matter what you say. We do not have ANY extra money in our coffers if you haven’t noticed.

  6. Judy McLaughlin says:

    It would be beneficial to the legal citizens of this country if you would make a point of counting those here illegally and, therefore, removing their ability to dictate taxpaying funds and political representation. Then the American citizen would not be held responsible for funding the social services they demand and require or watching our electorial districts be swayed by those that supposedly cannot vote but wish to control our government. Might also be helpful in increasing their voluntary return to their countries of origin. But as always, if they return the questionnaire, they will be counted as part of the population and be able to dictate voting districts and public funding. As the daughter of legal immigrants to this country I am ashamed of how this is handled and you should be as well!

  7. r. taylor says:

    As someone who has worked in survey research for over twenty years I can state that advance letters definitely improve response rates and there is a whole lot of studies conducted by private industry that verify this. It is standard practice for a good reason– it works!
    This nation has a large number of people who reject anything truthful and demonstrated scientifically that does not suit their political leanings, hence these hate-the-government folks complaining that the big bad feds are wasting their taxpayer money trying to improve the mail response rate when in fact it should reduce the cost by lowering the number of households that have to be visited by enumerators, which is much more costly than mail responses.
    The Census Bureau and every level of government can be found wasting money and you don’t have to look too hard to find it. But this ain’t necessarily one of those instances. So get a grip haters.

  8. Sam says:

    Advance letters are a necessary evil and WILL generate higher reponse rates. If it worked in college for stats it will work even better for the Feds. The Census is also required, it is a Constitutional necessity (Called ‘decennial enumeration’ I believe).

  9. matt davenport says:

    they know everything already leave me out of it my family gets no gov. assistance take 400 billion and pay down the debt

  10. Pamasaur says:

    Sandra, the purpose of the Census is to count the people for a lot of really important things — distribution of gov funds, representatives, etc. It’s also you know, kind of mandated in the Constitution. Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census#United_States

  11. Dr. Rich says:

    Anyone who has taken a course in survey methods (or taught one and done research, as I have) knows that the response rate is typically low for these protocols. One factor that can boost the response rate is to inform people ahead of time that they will be asked for their help.

  12. Mathew "RennDawg" Renner says:

    The Census is mandated by the Constution. For the purposes of taxing and redistricting only. It should be used for nothing else. If I ran the Cunsus it would be 3 questions.
    1. How many people live here?
    2. How many people here are over 18?
    3 How many people anr eligable to vote?
    There simplicity its self. All other questions are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS>

  13. Kris says:

    First of all, your comment is not related to the blog you posted it to. Second, the illegal citizens are still using American resources (like roads, for one example of many) whether we like it or not. And most social services will not turn people away based on citizenship, because all humans need help, not just legal residents (the fact that all people are created equal is the foundation of this country). So, these extra people need to be included in counts that determine funding so that the communities that have high amounts of illegal residents are not struggling financially to provide services/resources to all their residents. So if you are really worried only about the well-being of legal residents, then you should at least realize that if the illegals are not counted, then the legals in those areas would suffer from living in an underfunded community.

  14. JMackey says:

    It is clear that increasing the percentage rate of participation is an important goal to achieve because it saves a lot of money for the taxpayer. The Census is currently using several approaches to try and achieve this goal such as these separate early letters as well as the commercial advertisements that ask “Isn’t that what the Census is doing?”
    Are these various approaches all necessary or are the letters more fruitful than the commercials? The Government needs to be tactful and strategic with taxpayer dollars.

  15. I Count in Georgia says:

    If you use highways and bridges, have/had a mortgage, you or a family member ever used a hospital, expect emergency responders to know how to find your family, you are probably a recipient of gov. assistance whether you know it or not.

  16. Boris Carlisle says:

    James, I understand your concern that census results may be questionable, and I would like to address this issue.
    The Constitution mandates a census every ten years. It is used in a variety of fields, including apportioning federal funding among multiple social and economic programs. The census assists public decision makers in deciding how to distribute over half a trillion dollars of federal funding each year on infrastructure and services such as:
    – Schools
    – Senior citizen centers
    – Medical services
    – Public infrastructure
    – Emergency services
    A common concern holds that because the census cannot account for everyone, it cannot be accurate. This is not true. Using statistics, it is possible to determine information about the nation’s overall population by using unbiased samples and testing hypothesis within specified confidence intervals.
    Brief overview of sample size calculation:
    The formulaic calculations necessary to determine this sample is only a minor step in a long process that requires specialists in statistics.
    Views completely rejecting the benefits of the census or claiming that all information produced by the census is accurate are prone to some error.
    However, to claim that the census is a waste of money and provides no benefit is to assert a false hypothesis. You are rejecting the null hypothesis when it is true – namely that the census is useful – thus committing a Type I error.
    We must trust in the wisdom of our founding fathers who understood the need for administrators and decision makers to be informed as to the state of the nation, and to have accurate, reliable information on which to base their decisions.

  17. Boris,
    The 2010 decennial census is an enumeration of every resident living in America. We have to count everyone – it is not a sample survey.

  18. Patriot says:

    By law and in accordance with the US Constitution the census can only ask how many people reside in a household. Any information beyond that violates the constitution. Anyone who disagrees please show where in the constitution the government has the right to ask for more information.

  19. Patriot,
    The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census in “such manner as they shall by Law direct” (Article I, Section 2). Congress has passed numerous laws over the last two centuries governing the conduct of the census and other surveys. These laws are now incorporated in Title 13 of the United States Code. You can learn more at our website, 2010census.gov, and there is detailed information on the Census and the Constitution at this link: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/why/constitutional.php

  20. Virginia says:

    As if the advanced letter were not enough of a waste, I had a census worker hand deliver the form and leave it on my door yesterday. I live in a very rural area so now my tax dollar has been wasted on time, gas, and the very nice not environmentally friendly plastic bag to leave it on the door. We have not received a form in the mail because they are not due to come out yet so why did this happen? we have a physical mail box, we read and speak English, and we have always returned our Census form promptly. Well I wanted to know so I sent an email or I tried to send an email to the regional office and it bounced back to me. I called the regional office phone number from the website and it was the wrong office of the census so she gave me another number. She was very nice but when I called it the number was not a working number. And they wonder why we don’t want gov in our health care?? I gave up and decided just to post this here. No, I don’t think it will help but it does make me feel better.

  21. Virginia says:

    Waste of money but nearly as great a waste as having a census worker hand deliver the form to my home. I tried to ask why this happened but the email I sent to the regional census office bounced back to me. I called but I got the regular office instead of the 2010 office (my mistake) and the number they gave me to call was not a working number. Surfing this site the best I can figure out as a reason is because I live in Texas and DC must consider it the Gulf Coast even though Texans know it as Central Texas or East Central Texas. We are 200 miles from the coast but they seem concerned about the moving population due to the hurricane so they are hand delivering in the Gulf Coast.

  22. B.L.B. says:

    I received an advance letter today simply stating that the census form is coming. I can’t imagine how much it must have cost the government to mail these to each household. We already know that the census is coming–through various media forms. In my opinion, this is another example of tax money being needlessly spent.

  23. E V says:

    I understand the letter and survey advance notice. I am a Human Resources Professional and understand that fact the you have to remind people to take a survey. However there is still cost involved, but there is more economical ways than printing letters and paying postage to send the precursor letter out to every household. Majority of households pay taxes, has anyone thought of requesting census data through everyones IRS tax filing and soliciting the others like Seniors that may not file taxes. It would seem more cost effective in todays economy. I worked for a non-profit company before and we looked for many ways to do things at no cost or extremely low cost. Why is it that Gov’t doesn’t look at more cost effective ways do conduct business. All companies have to look for ideas to reduce costs to stay in business.

  24. leigh booth says:

    well dispite any other findings i think – what a waste of paper to mail a “get ready” letter!! we need to take care of our earth or soon the census will not really make much difference!

  25. Trever says:

    Ok, so where is the data then? The Census says they ran the research, but did they? We have to take their word for it? To use your reasoning, you trust-the-government people don’t get it. We are supposed to be distrusting of our government. That is the point of our system. The reason our country is in such shambles is people stopped being skeptical of their government and started trusting everything it does.
    You think that after millions spent on advertising people don’t know the census is coming? You honestly think that without this letter people will actually throw the census away? Why is it that trust-the-government people like you always want to throw mud in the eye of people that say things that ‘does not suit your political leaning’?

  26. WK says:

    The reasons stated to send out the letter announcing the Census survey is coming lacks any common sense. Send me the census with a note you will harass me if I don’t fill it out and I will send it in ASAP. That is all you need to do because that is what you are going to do anyway. Why not be up front about it?
    Below are some comments about your reasons for sending out the notification letter:
    “attempt to politely announce the forthcoming request to complete the census form.” Spend $55million to be polite…Does the gov’t think we are all stupid.
    “It functions to ask the household to be on the watch for the package when it comes.” WOW… I will be sitting by my mailbox day and night just waiting for my Census letter. I am so excited…I can just see Forrest Gump waiting for his Census letter.
    “It functions to verify that the upcoming request will be a legitimate one from the official agency conducting the 2010 Census.” How do I know it’s legitimate? I am sure those who are sending out fake Census forms already know when the gov’t is sending the real form so they can time their mailing to coincide with the gov’t mailing.

  27. WK says:

    Mark do you get notification for every bill you pay? How about your 1040 Federal Tax forms? If anything needs notification is when tax forms will be sent out. Do you think $55million of your tax dollars should be spent sending out notifications so your brain is comfortable.

  28. WK says:

    If it works so well how come Discover, Master Card, Vista, Water bill, Electric Bill etc. don’t send out notification letters before they send out their bills? Since these are a business and must ACCOUNT for all money spend have shown that notification letters are NOT worth the money. Otherwise believe me they would be doing it. So the real world of business says NO to notifications and the fantasy world most government employees and people who contract with government live in say YES..
    Since you are someone who worked in a research area it only goes to show you would support it. Heck, your salary is dependent on it. Your job is dependent on it.

  29. WK says:

    Why not ask for their help along with the survey? Include both in 1 mailing and save %55 million. Of course if you work for the Post Office which is in debt over $14B you need the extra mailings.

  30. em perl says:

    This advance notification mailing was a major blunder. Convoluted reasoning and an insensitive waste of resources.

  31. LaVern Andrews says:

    I disagree with the precensus letters. What a glorious waste of taxpayers money. What does this cost? Why all the TV ads? What do they cost. Please show Americans how sending in our census saves $85 mil. per household. Why do we need every other country’s language printed on this wonderful precensus letter? This is America, English is our language. Oh, and how many trees did all these precensus letters cost us? Are we finding out how many of these nonEnglish speaking people are naturalized or have their green cards? NO. Goodness NO!!! Why do people need to come to this wonderful computer site if we have questions? Are we so stupid because American Education was “left behind”? What good is all the money in the world going to do for those wonderful kids and parents who care less if their child learns in school? Should we place the blame solely on the school teachers? Why not pay for school? Hit those who want their kids to learn pay for the privlige. Many of those do in Charter and Private schools. Those children certainly do not fall into the “left behind” category. Keep public schools for the kids who cannot pay for their education. Those students who continue with good grades can get scholarships to attend the paying schools. Those who don’t want to learn. There is the Military. Perhaps if they take orders for a few years, they will want to start learning. If the people are so stupid as to not send in the census, let their communities not get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities and many other programs. Where is the government going to get these funds anyway? I thought perhaps responding to this stupid precensus letter would make me get my frustration out about this bureacurcy spending. NO-I was wrong.

  32. Carol Dybowski says:

    This goverment think’s (or hopes) that the American people are so stupid as to need an announcement letter about getting a census form. I’m outraged that we all have to cut back our spending just so you hypocrites can keep spending on all your foolish, petty selfs. DAH!!!

  33. Cindy Lutz says:

    I’m all for the census. Bring it on. Even send me a long form — I’m game.
    Any informed citizen should be aware that a census is happening this year — it’s 10 years since the last one.
    Plus, we have been bombarded with commercials reminding us that this is a census year.
    Plus, it’s been all over the news.
    But maybe there are still people who don’t know it’s coming. OK, I’ll buy that. But I am still dismayed at the waste of money involved in sending out a full letter in an envelope. It might be a difference of pennies, but surely a postcard would cost less in production and postage.
    When it comes to government spending, you had better believe that those pennies add up!

  34. Does this massive waste or taxpayer money reflect worse on the government people sending the letters or the recipients who are not given sufficient credit to know otherwise?
    Read about it on Real Value at http://www.realvaluesite.com/?p=229

  35. DJ says:

    Each bill is a notification that there will be another bill. They do it every month. Tell ya what: when credit card companies start sending out bills every 120 weeks instead of every 4 weeks you can compare the Census with Discover.

  36. DJ says:

    This is a comment I can get behind. People saying ‘this doesn’t work’ are just ignorant because all the data out there suggests it *does* work. Thinking of ways to save money this way is much more reasonable and productive of a discussion. We need more E Vs and less WKs.

  37. Susana says:

    First of all, you get your tax forms and your bills more frequently than once every ten years, so you’re a heckuva lot more likely to know they’re coming. Second, not everyone knows what purpose, and common good, the census provides. And finally, even if it cost $55 million to send out the letters, if that only lifts response rates by one percentage point, that’s a savings of $85 million right there. Businesses make these kinds of cost/benefit analyses all the time. Now the Census Bureau has done so and I think they’re being very smart and responsible with taxpayer money.

  38. Susana says:

    The American People don’t all know what the census is or what purpose it serves. Many Americans don’t follow the news and don’t even know the census is coming. The Bureau is trying to SAVE taxpayer money by investing in the advance mailing so that response rates are higher and they don’t have to spend gazillions following up with people who didn’t respond. A responsible home owner invests in small repairs and improvemetns to their house so that they can avoid bigger, costlier, repairs, down the line. The Bureau is doing the same. Investing money up front to avoid much bigger expenses later one. As a taxpayer, I am glad they are being so thoughtful and methodical in their research and decisionmaking.

  39. Susana says:

    Well you need to know how old people are so that you can figure out how much money is needed for schools, and maybe how much money is needed for eldercare services, and how many people of driving age there are so you know how to distribute highway funds. Nothing wrong with getting more and better information when it’s used to make our government more effective and efficient.

  40. We have extensive research that shows additional mailings alerting households to the arrival of the census form increase response rates by about 6 to 12 percentage points. The savings from that increase more than pay for these mailings. It costs about $85 million to print and mail the advance letter and reminder postcard. The potential increase in response rates demonstrated by our research could result in a savings of more than $500 million.

  41. Susana says:

    On what do you base that supposition? That is just pure speculation based on your obvious bias against government spending. I am NOT, nor have I ever been, a government employee or contractor. But I have known intelligent, hardworking, and honest people who worked in government, and they really did try to do right by taxpayers. Businesses do research all the time to figure out how to best allocate their resources. In this case, the Census Bureau did the same thing and came to a sound conclusion that investing in the advance mailing saves taxpayers money in the long run. Any business would have made the same judgement.

  42. Susana says:

    Well the research says the opposite of what you suppose. More people fill out the sentence after an advance letter than if they do not receive an advance letter. If the cost of the mailing is, as the Census says, lower than the cost of following up with people who do not fill out the survey, then the Bureau has made a good decision and is actually saving taxpayer money.

  43. Susana says:

    People get credit card statements and bills all the time and they know what they are. Census surveys come out once every TEN YEARS. So yes, there are millions of people who have NOT noticed the advertising about the Census (though millions of others HAVE), and there are millions of people who do not watch the news or read newspapers or go on news websites and they are CLUELESS about the Census. I worked for a credit card company for several years, in management, and I can guarantee you that credit card companies do LOTS of research and if they sent something to their customers once every ten years requring a response, they would DEFINTELY send out an advance letter. So the “real world of business” would do exactly what the Census Bureau is doing.

  44. i++ says:

    Advance letter should have asked those who ARE able to to respond online, to do so.
    Oh, its 2010 yet the gov. does not know how to implement a suitable online form for collecting answers to 10 questions.

  45. Rwblake says:

    They do not say it will, they say it MAY save money. That is the problem right there. IT MAY. It may not save money at all and may cost us more. Just like the Super Bowl ads. Did they research that too?
    That you pay a known actor to do several spots for the census versus a simple text only ad will be more effective?
    There are lots of methods to increasing awareness of the Census.
    To me they have to do more than indicate it MAY help with the cost.

  46. rwblake says:

    Again, it is may increase response. It has to be demonstrated to significantly increase response, not marginally.
    It is not a widely held method for surveys or you would see it used more often.

  47. M Wilson says:

    Would you rather have your taxpayer dollars spent through strategies derived through:
    a) Intuition and untested, unverifyable “common sense.”
    b) Tested, independently verified and peer reviewed best practices.
    Google for the words: survey methods prenotification
    This search brings up many studies. Some studies say it works and some studies are inconclusive. In general it seems to be considered a best practice in increasing survey response rates, but go look and decide for yourself. I don’t want the government basing policy on emotion and I’m disheartened that so many citizens would advocate for their own emotional response. Obviously, we don’t live in a black and white world and you can always find a study to say black is white, but that’s why we have so many different institutions testing each others’ findings. Following a commonly used, standard procedure in this realm seems like a very responsible thing to do, even if it disagrees with some people’s emotional intuition.

  48. Mike O'Meara says:

    It is because you live in a more rural area that the form was hand delivered to your house. In those areas (identified by the Census as Update/Leave areas), the post office cannot guarantee that the Cesnus questionaire will make it to the house that they intend to send it to (in the case of P.O Box, Rural Route, etc. addresses). Accordingly, the forms are hand-delivered by Census staff to ensure that they get to the right homes. It has nothing to do with your participation or any other response in the past. In areas that have a more exacting city-style address structure, the Post Office is more able to deliver them correctly, so they are tasked to do so in the mail out. Thank you in advance for your interest and participation – it truly is appreciated.

  49. Gary Rosen says:

    There is sufficient media coverage that the average citizen know about the 2010Census. My major complaint…..with the economic condition of the country….this is another example of Government Waste of DOLLARS….(COST OF THE PAPER,PRINTING,AND MAILING) and I guarantee that this letter is treated as JUNK MAIL by over 75% of the recipients.

  50. DTC says:

    Article One of The Constitution states that “the actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”
    Congress has since passed a number of laws that dictate what questions appear on the Census form. The questions are 100% legal. Failing to respond to the census is, in fact, illegal.

  51. DTC says:

    Why would the Census Bureau lie about the research? Do you really think they would send out a letter just to waste money?

  52. Peter says:

    I think this advance letter was a total waste. Waste of money and waste of paper. You didn’t even use recycled paper. Jeez! Government waste at it’s worst.

  53. Laura says:

    Hi Trever,
    You are right, you shouldn’t take their word for it. The good news: you don’t have to. Just google “advance letters survey response” in the google main page or google scholar, and you will find many research articles that support the utility of advance letters in survey responses, just like they say.
    I agree with you Trevor, we are not supposed to merely trust our leaders and government. That is one of the great things about demoncracy. But what comes with that is the responsibility to investigate these issues ourselves and draw our own conclusions based on evidence. Please do some work to find the evidence for and against these issues. I don’t mind when people have different opinions or support a different side of an issue, as long as it’s supported by scientific evidence or logical reasoning.

  54. Mary Ann & Fred Olsen-Virginia says:

    My husband and I both feel that this pre-notification of an upcoming census mailing is another case of WASTE IN THE GOVERNMENT, definitely with no respect to spending of our taxes. In a time that the economy is in such a downturn – can’t you people think past your nose and make a decision that would turn the corner of OVER EXPENDITURES IN ANOTHER DEPT. OF THE GOVERNMENT. “Just because it has always been done that way, does not make it a good reason to continue.” When are government officials going to listen to the American public. I even overheard laughter about this pre-mailing in my local YMCA. You are not fooling anyone. Stand up for what is right…..P L E A S E!!!

  55. Mary Ann & Fred Olsen-Virginia says:

    My husband and I both feel that this pre-notification of an upcoming census mailing is another case of WASTE IN THE GOVERNMENT, definitely with no respect to spending of our taxes. In a time that the economy is in such a downturn – can’t you people think past your nose and make a decision that would turn the corner of OVER EXPENDITURES IN ANOTHER DEPT. OF THE GOVERNMENT. “Just because it has always been done that way, does not make it a good reason to continue.” When are government officials going to listen to the American public. I even overheard laughter about this pre-mailing in my local YMCA. You are not fooling anyone. Stand up for what is right…..P L E A S E!!!

  56. Mary Ann & Fred Olsen-Virginia says:

    My husband and I both feel that this pre-notification of an upcoming census mailing is another case of WASTE IN THE GOVERNMENT, definitely with no respect to spending of our taxes. In a time that the economy is in such a downturn – can’t you people think past your nose and make a decision that would turn the corner of OVER EXPENDITURES IN ANOTHER DEPT. OF THE GOVERNMENT. “Just because it has always been done that way, does not make it a good reason to continue.” When are government officials going to listen to the American public. I even overheard laughter about this pre-mailing in my local YMCA. You are not fooling anyone. Stand up for what is right…..P L E A S E!!!

  57. T says:


  58. Ginny Gates says:


  59. Ginny Gates says:


  60. Ginny Gates says:


  61. cb says:

    This advance letter is simply a ridiculous waste of money, all kinds of resources, and space in my brain. If someone takes the time to open the advanced letter, they would have opened the real thing. Ridiculous. I want Robert Graves’ job!!!

  62. Vicki Clark says:

    What a waste of our country’s funds. No wonder we are in the trouble we are.

  63. Ruth says:

    I fully support the need for the census. But a far as I’m concerned, none of these “reasons” for sending out advance letters holds any water. Despite any of their research. Anything & everything can be explained in the census letter itself. This is another example of government waste & it treats the population as if they’re stupid. Supports the census bureau jobs though, doesn’t it? I’m disgusted at the level of waste, yet again. And I worked for a municipal gov’t so I know waste when I see it. Gaaaaag.

  64. Jeff says:

    Making our Government effective and efficient? That’s a joke!

  65. Jeff says:

    Patriot. First of all let me say that I agree with you 100%! Unfortunately I found this on the Census Bureau site.
    It is constitutional to include questions in the decennial census beyond those concerning a simple count of the number of people. On numerous occasions, the courts have said the Constitution gives Congress the authority to collect statistics in the census. As early as 1870, the Supreme Court characterized as unquestionable the power of Congress to require both an enumeration and the collection of statistics in the census. The Legal Tender Cases, Tex.1870; 12 Wall., U.S., 457, 536, 20 L.Ed. 287. In 1901, a District Court said the Constitution’s census clause (Art. 1, Sec. 2, Clause 3) is not limited to a headcount of the population and “does not prohibit the gathering of other statistics, if ‘necessary and proper,’ for the intelligent exercise of other powers enumerated in the constitution, and in such case there could be no objection to acquiring this information through the same machinery by which the population is enumerated.” United States v. Moriarity, 106 F. 886, 891 (S.D.N.Y.1901).
    In 2000, another District Court agreed and found that it there is no constitutional limit on collecting additional data, when necessary for governance. That court also said responses to census questions are not a violation of a citizen’s right to privacy or speech. Morales v. Daley, 116 F. Supp. 2d 801, 809 and 816. (S.D. Tex. 2000). These decisions are consistent with the Supreme Court’s recent description of the census as the “linchpin of the federal statistical system … collecting data on the characteristics of individuals, households, and housing units throughout the country.” Dept. of Commerce v. U.S. House of Representatives, 525 U.S. 316, 341 (1999).
    That being said! It still does not change my mind. I will not answer it.

  66. Jeff says:

    DTC. It may be illegal but the Census own website states that they are not in the business of prosecuting people who do not fill it out. They also state that the 2000 Census had a 72% participation. That is roughly 84 million people that did not participate. Did they all get fined? I think not!

  67. Jeff says:

    Again! Another post on this Blog with a lot of angry people posting.

  68. Mathew "RennDawg" Renner says:

    Yeah, getting information so thw goverment can continue to violate the 10th Amendment. Most of those thing you menchon exist in violation to our Constitution. I will not help the goverment ignor the highest law of the land. I will fill out the census. However, half ofthe questions will be filled out with NYOB (None of your business) or NBBM (Nobodys Business But Mine)

  69. K.Smith says:

    I will not support this census what so ever. This government does not give a rat’s ass about me. I live in a state where my vote does not count anyways so what’s the point. Its seems to me they are worried more if I am a Mexican or just some white person. I say the census can go to hell right along with all the DEMOCRATS in Ca.

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