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.

KansasReporter.org: Spike in Census errors on campus

The following piece comes from KansasReporter.org, which is a project of the Kansas Policy Institute, and is run by a team of veteran journalists:

By Gene Meyer, June 17, 2010

(KansasReporter) TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Secretary of State’s office has found a big spike in census errors on Kansas campuses that could affect the redrawing of electoral boundaries throughout the state.

Census workers in the secretary of state’s office found significant errors in 30 percent of 25,000 of the more than 100,000 responses they received this spring for a special survey that Kansas conducts each 10 years in connection with the federal decennial census.

By comparison, only 9 percent of the comparable forms turned in 10 years ago were flawed, said Abbie Hodgson, the office’s public affairs director. Many of the latest errors appeared to involve missing information, she said.

State workers need to contact students and resolve the mistakes now to avoid bigger problems as Kansas legislators redraw Congressional, Kansas Legislature and Kansas State Board of Education boundaries during the next two years, said Chris Biggs, Kansas’ secretary of state.

“It’s important that students complete the adjustment form so that they are counted in their hometowns during redistricting,” Biggs said Thursday. “We’re in the process of reaching out…to ensure that we have complete and accurate information.”

Federal census numbers are used to recalculate everything from boundaries for federal and state legislative districts to the equitable distribution of about $400 billion in annual, population-linked spending within each state, said Rich Gerdes, an assistant regional director of the U.S. Census, in Kansas City, Kan.

But exactly how states use those numbers to draw legislative boundaries and divide the money usually is up to state legislatures so long as their members follow broad guidelines regarding equal representation. Kansas and at least seven other states require lawmakers there to make some specific adjustments to federal numbers that most will receive nine or 10 months from now.

In Kansas, a constitutional amendment passed sometime before the 1990 federal census requires that college students and military service members  be counted as residents of their home towns, not the campus or military communities where they might live nine or more months a year.

“That’s different from how we list them on the federal census,” said Gerdes. “We would list them where they live most of the year.”

Legislators use the federal numbers to calculate U.S. Congressional districts and the state-adjusted numbers to determine state legislative and school board districts. And populations can change markedly between the calculations. Heavily populated Johnson County, in northeastern Kansas, gained nearly 2,600 additional residents in 2000, when absent college students were sent home statistically. Less densely populated Riley County, further west, lost more than 13,000 residents when Fort Riley families and Kansas State University students by the same process.

Kansas’ census allows students some leeway in deciding whether to claim their campus town or their home town as a principal residence, Hodgson said.

“We realize it may be different if you are a freshman away from home for the first time, or a senior living in Lawrence who’s put down roots in the community,” she said.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

12 Responses to “KansasReporter.org: Spike in Census errors on campus”

  1. anon123 Says:

    Very true. Washburnn University in Topeka, KS had a census employee (immediately terminated) going around campus around April 1, 2010, asking inappropriate personal info such as financial info, social security numbers, etc. It was on the local news stations that night, in the WU Campus newspaper, and local newspapers. Topeka LCO 2622 said nothing about this and so did Kansas City, MO RCC.

  2. Bob Says:

    Very UNTRUE. Do a little research before commenting. The person in question was an imposter as reported by the US Census, Topika PD & Washburn Univ.

  3. statistician Says:

    This story is in reference to “a special survey that Kansas conducts each 10 years in connection with the federal decennial census” not the decennial census itself.

  4. nerfoo Says:

    Yes, the spike in errors reported in this story is not a spike in errors in the decennial US Census, but in a special survey that the state of Kansas does on college campuses in the same year that the decennial census is going on.

  5. BTK census worker Says:

    The last 2 comments say it all. This site MyTwoCensus, exibited by this posting, shows the deception and desire to distort the overwhelmingly positive effort of a once every 10 year endevour that is unmatched by anything other than military action taken on by this government. This posting portrays an erronious example of census work that is in reality wholey and completely not related to the US Census Bureau or anything the US Census Bureau does

  6. nerfoo Says:

    And, what an odd way of saying 7.5% in the article. 30% of 25,000 out of 100,000 altogether. That’s 7.5% of the 100,000. Which is, actually, lower than the 9% 10 years ago.

    I’m sure that there’s just something missing in the article, though, that would explain the reason why it was written, why it was considered news…

  7. Anonymous Says:

    This story is in reference to “a special survey that Kansas conducts each 10 years in connection with the federal decennial census” not the decennial census itself.

    SRM – can you please confirm statistician‘s comment?

  8. nerfoo Says:

    Link to another, more thorough, article regarding the Kansas Secretary of State’s press release (I haven’t found the actual press release online, yet) regarding the 2010 Kansas Census Adjustment Questionnaire that is sent out decenially to college students and military personnel in Kansas, in order to adjust their residency to their hometown as opposed to their residence at college/military base — http://www.hutchnews.com/Localregional/college-student-census–2

  9. reply Says:

    51 year old white mail temporary census employee Washburn University Topeka, KS …. Topeka LCO issued this statement to local news, “no comment, we have dealt with this personnel issue”.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you nerfoo for confirming that this survey has nothing to do with us.

    tags: EPIC FAIL

  11. Watermelon Says:

    Reply’s post is true. Do you want the former Census employee’s name?

  12. nerfoo Says:

    I don’t understand ‘reply’s post. What personnel issue? Does it have something to do with this Kansas State Census Adjustment Questionnaire that is being discussed in the article?

    It would be absolutely unreasonable to think that within any group of over 500,000 new employees (being supervised by thousands who are basically new employees themselves) that there would not be any personnel issues.