My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

FOXNews Headline: ACORN to Play Role in 2010 Census

MyTwoCensus is waiting on a response from the Census Bureau to our list of questions that will help up determine the validity of this statement. Here are our questions:

1. Is it possible that current/former ACORN workers will be/have been hired by the Census Bureau?

2. What was the agreement signed in February 2009 between the Bureau and ACORN?

3. Hasn’t recruiting for the 2010 count already ended? Hasn’t testing already finished? If so, why was ACORN brought on to be involved with this process so late in the game?

4. Are there any factual inaccuracies in the FoxNews report?

In our initial call to Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner, he indicated that beyond the inflammatory headline of the article, there isn’t much substance to the article. He was quick to stress that the decennial headcount will only be conducted by employees of the federal government, not third parties (like community organizations).

From the article:

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now signed on as a national partner with the U.S. Census Bureau in February 2009 to assist with the recruitment of the 1.4 million temporary workers needed to go door-to-door to count every person in the United States — currently believed to be more than 306 million people.

A U.S. Census “sell sheet,” an advertisement used to recruit national partners, says partnerships with groups like ACORNĀ ”play an important role in making the 2010 Census successful,” including by “help[ing] recruit census workers.”

The bureau is currently employing help from more than 250 national partners, including TARGET and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), to assist in the hiring effort.

But ACORN’s partnership with the 2010 Census is worrisome to lawmakers who say past allegations of fraud should raise concerns about the organization.

“It’s a concern, especially when you look at all the different charges of voter fraud. And it’s not just the lawmakers’ concern. It should be the concern of every citizen in the country,” Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland, R-Ga., vice ranking member of the subcommittee for the U.S. Census, told FOXNews.com. “We want an enumeration. We don’t want to have any false numbers.”

The U.S. Census Bureau has refuted any suggestions that ACORN or any other groups will fraudulently and unduly influence the results of the census.

“The Census (Bureau) is a nonpartisan, non-political agency and we’re very dedicated to an accurate account,” bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner told FOXNews.com. “We have a lot of quality controls in place to keep any kind of systemic error or fraudulent behavior to affect the counts.”

Buckner said the bureau received an overwhelming number of qualified applicants — more than 1 million — for the 140,000 census taker jobs filled to complete the first phase of the effort. Each applicant, he said, must take a basic skills exam, which includes reading a map and entering data into a handheld computer. Applicants are also subject to an FBI background check, he said.

But Buckner acknowledged that it is difficult to track an applicant’s political background.

“I have no way of tracking any of that information,” he said. “If somebody comes in to a position with a political agenda and their work exhibits that, there are rules against that,” he said.

Buckner stressed the need for organizations like ACORN to assist in the effort, saying that “any group that has a grassroots organization that can help get the word out that we have jobs” is helpful.

In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau had 140,000 partnerships from “national organizations to local and community organizations to elected officials,” he said. “The list is as broad as the phone book.”