Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fill out your Census form.

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R, MN) has been garnering some attention of late for her bizarre announcement on Fox News that she intends to only fill out part of her US Census form in April of 2010. The Minnesota Star Tribune has a terrific response to her statement:
"...The two-term congresswoman from Minnesota's Sixth District bluntly said she will not fully fill out the census form, a misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000. Her census fear-mongering clearly could push others to do the same. What Bachmann is doing -- on national television, no less -- is encouraging people to break the law. That's not right-wing. That's not conservative. That's just wrong." (MN Star Tribune)

To be clear on the legalities:
  • Title 13 of the U.S. Code prohibits anyone from accessing Census data (even the President of the United States). Doing so is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 under the Sentencing Reform Act (U.S. Census Bureau).
  • The same Title XIII requires participation in the US Census by anyone asked to fill out the census form. Neglecting to answer a question on the form, or giving a false answer, is against the law. (Title XIII.7.221)

On top of this, consider:
  • Each person not counted loses accurately in their current location loses their community over $1,000 per year for the next decade.
  • Redistricting and apportionment is done based on the Census count, and every person counted or not counted makes a big difference. In Bachmann's home state of MN, for example, missing just one person in every township would mean losing a Congressional seat in 2010.
  • The Census snaps a picture of our entire community- young and old, rich and poor, black and white, citizen and non-citizen. It's important that every face is included in that shot, so that we can have the best possible view of what our country looks like.
Get familiar with your 2010 Census form- download a sample here!

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