Counting Americans Abroad in the 2010 Census
In America’s last decennial headcount, Utah was 800 citizens short of gaining a 4th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. One major factor: Many Mormons from Utah spend time overseas as missionaries and weren’t counted in the 2000 Census. The Salt Lake Tribune reports how that might change this year:
The State Department would be required to team with the Census Bureau to study the best ways to count Americans living oversees under an amendment offered Wednesday by Utah Rep. Jim Matheson.
The House approved Matheson’s amendment on a voice vote, adding it to a State Department budget bill that will now go before the Senate.
The amendment is in reaction to the 2000 census when Utah came about 800 people shy of gaining a fourth U.S. House seat. But the census didn’t count Mormon missionaries in foreign countries, a bone of contention with Utah officials who unsuccessfully sued.
“It is unfair to Utah that the Census Bureau does not count LDS missionaries living overseas,” Matheson said in a statement. “My amendment will put Utah on a path to ultimately get the full representation it deserves.”
The amendment requires the secretary of state, attorney general and the Census Bureau to explore using passports to help overseas Americans vote in elections and be counted in the census, then report back to Congress. The amendment doesn’t set a deadline, making it unclear whether it would have any impact on the upcoming 2010 census, which is far along in the planning stages.
Regardless, Utah is expected to gain at least one House seat once the population figures are tabulated.