First online census survey set
by BRIAN NADIG
Residents should soon be receiving their invitation to participate in the first primarily digital U.S. Census, if they have not already.
"Right now we’re getting more and more aggressive in our marketing (and working) to expand our outreach program," U.S. Census Bureau partnership specialist Kamil Szalewicz said at the Feb. 26 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.
The invitation, which will be delivered via the U.S. Postal Service through March 20, will include a unique passcode which the recipient can use to log in online and fill out the census questionnaire, Szalewicz said. The delivery of the letters are being staggered to help avoid the call center from becoming overwhelmed.
Respondents also can fill out the questionnaire, which is available in several languages, over the phone or request a paper copy, Szalewicz said.
The bureau also will be sending reminder letters between March 16 and 24 and a reminder postcard between March 26 and April 3. For those households that do not respond by early April, a paper questionnaire will be sent, with a final reminder postcard mailed between April 20 to 27.
The bureau estimates that nationwide about 5 percent of households will receive their questionnaire when a census taker drops it off. These could include instances in which families do not receive mail at their home’s physical location, as they may use a postal box service.
In addition, less than 1 percent of households are expected to be counted in person by a census taker.
Szalewicz said that the bureau is working with community groups to help encourage a higher response rate and to overcome a variety of barriers which could discourage people from responding to the census. He said those living here legally and illegally are asked to complete the census and the information cannot be shared with another government agency.
"The individual details (of a respondent’s questionnaire) will be protected for 72 years," Szalewicz said. He added that bureau employees who improperly release details could face a fine of up to $250,000 and possible jail time, he said.
It is important for each community to seek the highest response as possible because billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed based on population figures and states can lose or gain congressional seats based on population shifts, Szalewicz said.
The questionnaire asks for information regarding the number of people living at an address along with their names, sex, age, date of birth, race and the relationship of each person in a household. The questionnaire does not ask for social security numbers, political party affiliation and credit card numbers, according to the bureau.