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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Tracking Census Returns

Like gazillions of other Metro area elected officials, I received this e-mail from Peter Bell, chair of the Met Council, a couple of weeks ago.

Dear Local Elected Officials:

The 2010 Census is right around the corner, and the U.S. Census Bureau has issued a challenge for local officials to help encourage community participation in the census.

Census forms will be delivered in the mail to every household in the U.S. on March 15-17. The 2010 Census only has 10 questions, which officials estimate will take only 10 minutes to complete. Those households that complete and mail back their census forms by April 15 will not require any follow-up visits from the Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau has launched the “Take 10” challenge for local officials to encourage their communities to take 10 minutes as soon as the forms come in the mail, complete them, and mail them back. The bureau has launched a website that will track mail-back participation for communities, as compared to the rates of return in the 2000 Census. Nationwide, 72 percent of households mailed back their forms.

The website also has an electronic toolkit with information about the census, sample speeches and letters to the editor, and other materials to help you rally your communities to send in their census forms. In addition, there are some ideas for you to have a little fun with the effort, to challenge your neighboring communities to have a higher rate of mailing back forms.

Visit the “Take 10” site at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/.

Census officials emphasize the importance of achieving an accurate count – there is still the possibility that Minnesota may lose a seat in Congress, and that’s more likely to affect the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Millions of dollars in federal funds are also at stake in the census. And it’s critical to get as accurate a picture of the region as we plan for future development.

Taking 10 minutes to fill out the census as soon as it comes will enhance the accuracy of the count.

Peter Bell
Metropolitan Council

Starting tomorrow, census forms will arrive in the mail. Besides reminding us all of the importance of filling out those forms — one of Minnesota's congressional seats hangs in the balance — Mr. Bell's message includes a link to a neat interactive map, where the Census Bureau will be reporting the participation rates. Right now the map shows participation rates from the 2000 census — I can see for example that my immediate neighborhood then had a rate of 84%, compared to 78% for Minnesota as a whole and 72% nation-wide. It's nice to be above average, but I hope we can do even better this time!


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