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Editorial: Get counted by Census

U.S. Census questionnaires go out early next year, and it’s in your own best interest to fill out and return the form. The Census is the government’s best way of determining how many people live in each area ó a key factor in drawing congressional districts and allocating funds for services such as senior citizen centers, highways and hospitals.
Rowan County may have left some money on the table, so to speak, in the last Census. About 64 percent of Rowan households filled out their forms and sent them back in. Return rates for area municipalities in 2000 went like this: East Spencer, 26 percent; Faith, 36 percent; Granite Quarry, 47 percent; Spencer, 62 percent; Salisbury, 63 percent; Landis and Cleveland, 64 percent; Kannapolis, 66 percent; China Grove, 68 percent; and Rockwell, 74 percent.
Households that fail to respond to the questionnaire are not left out of the Census after just one try. They may receive a second questionnaire or a visit from a Census taker. But clearly some people don’t care about being counted and may actively avoid it. Everyone has his or her reasons, but they should keep these things in mind:
– Confidentiality: It is illegal for the Census Bureau or its employees to share your personal information with any other government agency ó not law enforcement, IRS, Welfare, FBI, Immigration, etc. The penalty for violating that law is a $250,000 fine and/or five years in prison.
– Simple questions: The Census form consists of 10 questions and should take about 10 minutes to fill out. It asks for each person’s name, date of birth, gender, race or origin, relationship to the person completing the form and whether they sometimes live or stay somewhere else.
– Help: The Census Bureau takes into consideration those who may struggle with the form and provides help for the hearing impaired, those who don’t speak English and those who have trouble reading and writing.
– An important note: Census workers will not be asking for Social Security or bank account numbers. If anyone comes to your door or calls and says he or she is seeking that information on behalf of the Census, that person is lying and should be reported to authorities.
Want to know more? You may want to get involved in the local Complete Count Committee, a city/county volunteer group that will come up with a plan to help get as thorough a count as possible for this community. The group will meet 9 a.m. Oct. 2 in Salisbury City Council Chambers.
The more accurate the Census, the fairer our representation and allocation of funds. There’s no reason to hide from that.

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