Census Day For The 23rd Census of The United States

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

This blog post is cross-posted at The White House Blog.

Today is Census Day – the day of reference that defines who to report as living in your household on your 2010 Census form.

This morning, President Obama officially declared today “Census Day” in a presidential proclamation.

Also today, I learned that President Obama recently filled out and mailed back his census form. Below you can see a photo of the President fulfilling his civic obligation to be counted.


President Barack Obama fills out his 2010 Census form in the Oval Office, March 29, 2010. March 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The First Family experiences a unique privilege every day by living in the White House. But one aspect of their lives that is quite common also happens to be something that often causes confusion when people fill out the census form. The First Lady’s mother lives with the family in the White House. Since the census asks for a count of everyone currently living in the household – not just immediate family – the President included his mother-in-law on his census form.

In these difficult economic times its common for extended family and friends to live with another family, yet many households mistakenly leave these individuals off their census forms.

Like the President, millions of you have already completed your form and mailed it back. You got the message that doing so is important and saves taxpayers the cost of sending out a trained census taker to interview you in person.

And the 10 simple questions you answered on the form are very close to those asked in the first-ever U.S. census in 1790. All of us today are helping to fulfill the goals of our Founding Fathers, especially James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who played key roles in that 1790 Census. It was their invention to ensure the fairest possible political representation in our government.

You followed in our Founders footsteps, completed a great act of civic responsibility and contributed to wise stewardship of Federal tax dollars.

Now you can follow your community’s progress in returning census forms. A new interactive map provides daily updates of the percentage of returned census forms. We encourage you to check the map frequently over the coming weeks to see how your community is doing compared to 2000, and also see how others across the country are faring.

While you’re visiting our Web site, explore its other features, such as an interactive form that explains the purpose and history of each question, assistance guides in 59 languages, and a page that describes the origins of the census in the Constitution.

As for those of you who haven’t yet filled out your form, you still have a couple of weeks left. It’s not too late to do what many of your neighbors have already done.

So do your part to make the 2010 Census a success — fill out your form and mail it back.

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

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29 Responses to Census Day For The 23rd Census of The United States

  1. Stanley Sokolow says:

    For an accurate count without missing or double counting, the census form says to report who is living in the home on April 1, 2010, not in jail on that day, nor in an institution. No one can predict the future so accurately to say that a person will not be hospitalized or jailed on a particular date in the future. Therefore, it is improper to return the form prior to April 1. Why did the census bureau push for people to complete the form prior to April 1? This protocol will result in a mis-count.

  2. Valerie says:

    A friend of mine left his roommate off of his census form. How can he correct this and get the roommate counted?

  3. CWal says:

    At least the census bureau figured out where to mail the Obama’s form. I’m still waiting for mine, as are my neighbors, my daughters who live in an apartment in another state, all of the employees at my place of work who live in our dormitories as well as a vast majority of my co-workers who live in private homes or apartments.
    A simple method of one form to every residence address in the country would yield a good return, I would think. Most people are like me and are happy to fulfill their civic duties. I am a registered voter who has voted in every federal election since 1973, even when living overseas. I vote in every local election (except when living overseas), I have done jury duty, I attend town hall meetings, I pay my taxes on time and in full.
    The IRS certainly has no problem getting my forms to me and have no problem making sure I can securely complete my tax forms and pay via the internet, but the Census Bureau cannot. Nor can the Census Bureau offer a reasonable way for me to manually complete my civic obligation. I anticipate howls of indignation from the Census Bureau about the south not completing their forms and mailing them back in a timely manner, yet the Census Bureau has not distributed their forms throughout the south in a timely manner.

  4. Same here Obama can find us when they need money but can’t send out a census form. Everyone I ask/know has said they have not received forms. I am sure everyone in the Chicago cemeteries have received theirs!

  5. Valerie, your friend can pick up a form at one of our Be Counted sites. http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/
    Be counted sites are not private homes, but libraries, churches, town halls, local business etc.
    Be counted forms are available for anyone who did not receive a 2010 Census form or believes that they were missed on their household’s form.

  6. CWAL, The Census Bureau will is still in the process of delivering the 2010 Census questionnaires. If you have not received a questionnaire by April 12th, please contact the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Center at 1-866-872-6868, but please note until April 12th, it is automated message. If you call after April 12th, someone will be able to help you.
    Also you can pick up a form at one of our Be Counted sites. http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/
    Be counted sites are not private homes, but libraries, churches, town halls, local business etc.
    Be Counted forms are available for anyone who did not receive a 2010 Census form or believes that they were missed on their household’s form.

  7. nyla sidler says:

    i didn’t catch that about April 1. i have a problem with them keep sending me forms even though i filled mine out a while ago but no one can tell me if they got it or not so they say the cheapest way to deal with it is to keep mailing out forms. the help centers who i called listed on the form they tolled me this. this doesn’t make sense to me. if you can have jail time for non compliance then how can they not be able to verify this info for your address.

  8. Robert says:

    I have received 4 mailings from the census so far, including a second questionnaire today. I completed and sent my first one back the day I recieved it. What a huge waste of paper and money. Why so many mailings, especially a second questionairre????

  9. Anthony says:

    I got my form a few weeks ago, but as soon as I saw that it was wanting to know about who was living in the household on april 1st, I put the form on the fridge and waited for April 1st.
    Today I got another form saying it was my LAST CHANCE before being contacted and that I was required by law to respond… as if I had been delinquent in my duty. I cannot answer questions about who’s living at my address on April 1st, 2010, until April 1st, 2010. Neither can anyone else.
    As the poster below says, it would have been improper to send the form in before April 1st. And yet, the Census Bureau wonders why so few responses have come in yet.

  10. Anthony, Here’s the logic we’ve used. We know that folks who receive the form and act on it immediately avoid the natural tendency to put it aside on a desk or table and then forget about it completely. Second, we know that the vast majority of households are pretty stable in their composition. The people who are in the household on March 15, for example, are the same people who will be there on April 1; no one will move into the home in the two week period. Hence, responding early gives us an accurate picture of the household on April 1. Thus, we have a general message to fill it out and mail it back when you receive it.
    The exceptions to the rule are clearly those households experiencing change. If you know you’re moving to a new house, don’t fill it out before April 1. If you expect new household members by April 1, don’t fill it out before April 1. If you expect any other changes in who lives at your home, wait until April 1 to fill it out.

  11. Robert, As many as 45% of Americans were unaware that this month is when the Census starts. That’s probably due to the fact we only do a Census once every ten years. Based on historical response rates, we expect roughly two thirds of households will mail back their form. The rest we will have to send an enumerator to collect the data required by the Constitution. You can imagine that follow-up is an expensive proposition. In fact, every one percent increase in the number of households who mail back the form saves the taxpayers about $85 million in expensive door-to-door follow up. That’s why we advertise and promote, to increase the mail back response rate and help save on expensive labor to follow up. We have extensive research that shows additional mailings alerting households to the arrival of the census form and reminding them to participate increases response rates by about 6 to 12 percentage points. The savings from that increase more than pays 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. After the 2000 Census we returned to the Treasury some $305 million in savings. Then Secretary of Commerce Don Evans testified in 2001 to the U.S. Senate that those savings came about from our advertising, promotion and PR efforts encouraging households to mail back their forms, increasing response rates over the prior census for the first time in three decades. The total we spend on all promotion and advertising is about one dollar per person in the U.S. It costs just 42 cents to mail back the form. But it costs $57 for follow up with non-responding households, many of which we must visit several times to reach someone at home. We wish we did not have to advertise, and that 100% of households mailed their form back, but that is just not the case.
    Regarding the second mailing….
    It is possible that we have an unrecognized duplicate in our master address file that has caused you to receive a duplicate form. As part of the census process, we look for these situations and ensure we eventually delete the duplicate record. It is also possible, though we had quality control procedures on all the printing and labeling efforts, that the vendor accidentally printed two forms for the same address. Unfortunately, no quality control process can ensure zero errors. Thank you for filling out and sending back your questionnaire. You can discard the second form. Because we have to account for each form we mail out, a census taker might come to your home between May and July to find out why the second form was not mailed back. At that time you can tell the census taker that you received two forms and were told to mail one back and discard the other one.

  12. Stephanie says:

    I live in Oklahoma and we have yet to receive anything related to the Census 2010. I live 3 blocks from my folks – they haven’t received anything. I live half a mile from my in-laws, they haven’t received anything. We keep hearing about the importance of it but we can’t fill out what we don’t have…

  13. David G. says:

    While the Census ads are cute about saying if we don’t know how many people we are how will we know how many roads to build, etc., why are there two questions about race on the census form? Why does the federal government/the census need to be so concerned about race? Whatever happened to being “American?” What kind of ad should be about the race question: if you don’t complete your census form, how will the government know how many race-based policies to issue?

  14. Neva Stoltz says:

    I have received any number of mailings requesting I send in my census forms. I have not received the forms. I have called and requested forms but the only thing sent is a postcard saying there is a fine if the forms aren’t filled out and returned. The total phone calls now are at 7 requesting the forms. The regional office said they would let me know where I could go and pick up the forms. The census has no problem sending me postcards but have problems sending me the forms. I am not going to pick up the forms! No wonder the people are fed up with all government agencies. Do we have anyone that is competent in their jobs?

  15. David G.,The collection of race and Hispanic and origin information is important, and required. The Census Bureau collects race and Hispanic origin information in order to provide data required by various federal programs, laws and regulations, as determined by the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance on collecting and tabulating information on race and Hispanic origin.

  16. ESLEY JARMAN says:


  17. Thank you for this very informative article of yours. You have explained everything well. I appreciate that you shared this to us.

  18. Kathleen says:

    YEAH!! No kidding! Talk about wasting taxpayers money. I got mine and returned it the very next day and today I get another one?? and an pleasant note on it telling me IT’S THE LAW! I was like WTH?
    I did not bother filling it out but I am sending it back with a note on THIER record keeping, because obviously one hand does not know what the other is doing.
    gawd @ our government!

  19. Sean says:

    Why bother cooperating with the Government when the government can steal homes and assets from U.S. citizens and grant those assets to illegal immigrants who enter sham Greencard marriages…. The Census database in the hands of a tyrannical government is dangerous and reminiscent of the Nazi’s using IBM’s database technology during WWII to catalogue, track and dispatch their millions of victims…
    Americans need to be vigilant against the Government using the Census data and other sources of private data to measure the effectiveness of institutionalized tyranny. The Patriot Act more than likely supersedes all existing legislation intended to “protect” the privacy of Census participants…

  20. ZAW win says:

    While I am visiting your web site , I noticed that spelling in other language section, BURMA, is wrongly spelled.The first word is wrong. Other than that one, the site is informative.

  21. Sean,
    No law overrides the confidentiality law that protects the personal information collected by the Census Bureau, or can force the Census Bureau to share census responses. The Justice Department recently confirmed that no provision of the Patriot Act overrides the confidentiality law that protects census responses.

  22. Claire A. Curran says:

    I have received a 2nd census form. In all my calls I have not been able to get a live person to find out what to do.
    I mailed my form the day I received it.

  23. Jeff says:

    If “Also sociologists, economists and other researchers who analyze social and economic trends use the data.” (quoting your reason for question#6 on the census form)How can my information remain confidential?
    And why would I feel that the confidentiality mentioned in title 13 has anymore teeth than the constitutional measures being stretched on the house and senate floors?
    Tell me – do I have the right to feel this way? Because I do, and I do.

  24. Laura C. says:

    The census is a crucial part of our democratic progress. If people were aware of the cost of not participating, I believe the rates of participation would increase. Not only does it cost the government millions of dollars to hire census workers to go door to door and collect the forms of non-responders; the census also determines how congressional districts are allocated. Those who don’t mail back their forms are essentially forfeiting part of their representation in government.
    Although some of my college-aged peers who move frequently did not fill out the census, my roommates and I made a point to.

  25. Jeff says:

    I don’t know where you are getting your information, but you are worrying about nothing. The Census Bureau Does not fine people and they CAN’T put anybody in jail! They just use those scare tactics to get people to comply.

  26. Jeff,
    All personally identifiable information is kept confidential, data is only used for statistical purposes. For more information on privacy please see http://2010.census.gov/2010census/privacy/index.php

  27. Claire,
    You can discard the second one if you have sent in the first.

  28. Den Gormley says:

    IT IS THE LAW to fill out and send back ACCURATE INFORMATION on your census form. At least that is what the form says, and ALL the commercials and ads say, but then I hear that unmarried gay people living together are ‘officially’ encouraged to mark the ‘married’ box. That can’t be true, I think, that would be false information, punishable by murky fines and penalties, which, if not a monetary fine, MUST be jail time. No one would mark a box, or leave an applicable box unmarked under threat of federal penalty. Unless you believe that President Obama checked ONLY the African-American box, and NOT the mixed race or additionally the White box on his form for himself. Unless all reporting on his ethnic background has been a lie, he is the product of a white mother and black father. Either check both White and Black (Afro American) or click Mixed Race.
    I am the descendant of Irish Immigrants on both sides for at least 3 generations. I was born in St Albans, Queens county, New York State, making me a native of America. Can I click the Native American box with as much truth as Obama and the gays quoted above have checked their boxes? Will I be ‘fined or penalized’? Is this about what you are or what you ‘feel’ you are. If we can fudge our ancestry and marital status, can I put my address down as Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Park Avenue or some other ‘high class’ neighborhood? How about 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC? That’ll REALLY mess up Obama’s ‘who lives here’ questions. This Census is a farce!

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