Top Five Reasons To Fill Out Your Census Form

BROWARD COUNTY – Now that most people in Broward County have received their 2010 Census form in the mail, it is time to fill it out and send it back.

However, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 10 percent of U.S. residents said they weren’t sure if they would fill out their census form.

According to the poll, the main reason respondents gave for not returning the form was that they saw little personal gain from answering the questionnaire. They also expressed uncertainty as to whether the government was asking for more information than it really needed, and many said they weren’t confident that census information would be kept confidential.

Others simply said they did not have the time to fill it out.

“Some myths are floating around that the census is inconvenient or unsafe, but the opposite is true,” said Broward County Commissioner, Ilene Lieberman, chair of the Broward County Census 2010 Complete Count Committee “The census is completely confidential and takes just 10 minutes to fill out 10 basic questions.”

The information obtained from the census forms is vital because governments use the data to determine where to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in funding.

According to a recent Brookings Institution study, an accurate census count can increase the flow of federal money to states and localities from more than 200 government programs, including healthcare for the poor, highways, public safety, transportation and schools.

It is especially significant this year because the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program will pump even more money into states and communities based on Census results, boosting the total to be distributed from $400 billion to more than $500 billion. It will be important that Broward County gets its share.

The loss in funding for government services for just one uncounted person in Broward County was estimated at $1,300 by the 2000 Census Monitoring Board. Nearly 20,000 Broward County residents were uncounted in 2000, resulting in an estimated loss in funding of $26 million.

To help dispel some myths surrounding the census, here are five reasons why everyone should participate:

1) It’s safe – By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including the IRS, FBI, CIA, INS or any other government agency. All Census Bureau employees are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 and/or five years in prison.

2) It’s easy – The mail-in census form has only 10 questions and should take about 10 minutes to answer. Those who don’t return the form will be visited by a census taker. Avoid the hassle and fill out the form.

3) It helps you and your community – The information the census collects helps determine how more than $500 billion dollars of annual federal funding will be spent on services that benefit the public including hospitals, job training centers, schools, bridges and roads.

4) It saves tax money – For every one percent increase in mail response, the government, and ultimately taxpayers, save $80 to $90 million. Ultimately, that could amount to $1.5 billion.

5) It helps your voice be heard – Census data are also used to determine representation in the federal and state legislatures. Under-counting leads to under-representation.

“Now is the time to fill out your form and send it back,” said Commissioner Lieberman. “Remember: We can’t move forward until you mail it back.”

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