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.

Archive for the ‘Redistricting’ Category

Keeping Track of Snowbirds in the 2010 Census

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Here’s an important case study from the Detroit Free Press in Michigan about counting “snowbirds” in the 2010 Census (Click HERE for full piece):

Tips on how to fill out the residency information on 2010 census forms.

That’s the message from officials with state and local governments and area agencies on aging, who are trying to educate snowbirds about the importance of making sure they are counted as Michigan residents when census forms are delivered to households in late February and March.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry, who is heading the state’s census count effort, said the state estimates about 200,000 snowbirds were missed or not counted as Michigan residents in the 2000 census. He said the uncounted snowbirds contributed to the state’s loss of a seat in Congress and about $2 billion in federal funds over this decade.

Population counts also affect federal dollars that come to the state for hospitals, schools, senior centers, public works projects and emergency services.

“We have a better understanding of what Michigan will lose,” said Paul Bridgewater of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging. “That’s why we’re working harder this year to minimize the loss of the past.”

Billions in funding relies on snowbirds

Rosanne and William Bowker are among the metro Detroiters preparing to leave Michigan’s cold, snowy winter for Florida’s warm sun.

The Royal Oak couple became snowbirds about four years ago after William retired from Chrysler. The 65-year-olds plan to leave after Christmas for their Ft. Myers campground — complete with its own mailbox — for the next four months.

In past snowbird seasons, their neighbors collected their mail and their daughter sent it to them in Florida. But this season, they are having their mail forwarded by the Post Office.

That means they won’t get the 2010 census form that should hit their Michigan mailbox in March. Census forms are not forwarded by the post office because they are based on the residence, not the person, said Kim Hunter, a census bureau media specialist in Detroit.

Rosanne Bowker admitted she never thought about the census form. But after learning that an estimated 200,000 Michigan snowbirds were missed or not counted in the 2000 census, costing the state a congressional seat and about $2 billion in federal funds, she wants to be counted as a resident of her home state.

“I didn’t realize how important it was,” she said.

State, local and Area Agency on Aging officials said it’s critical that Michigan have an accurate tally of its population in the decennial count to receive federal dollars that are directly tied to population and to maintain political influence in Washington on issues such as the auto industry, health care reform and the Great Lakes.

Kenneth Darga, state demographer, said Michigan lost a congressional seat in the 2000 census by just 50,000 people.

“If a portion of our 200,000″ snowbirds “would have been counted, we wouldn’t have lost that seat,” he said.

Boston Defeats Federal Government In Population Count Challenge

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

From the Associated Press:

Boston has successfully challenged its U.S. Census Bureau population estimate.

The city won an argument with the federal government that Boston’s population was 620,535 as of 2008.

So far, eight municipalities have challenged their numbers, adding 22,295 to the Massachusetts population estimate.

Secretary of StateWilliam Galvin said today that Massachusetts now has an overall estimate of more than 6.5 million.

The 2010 Census in April will be critical if the state hopes to avoid losing one of its 10 House seats to southern and western states that have seen population growth.

The Population Estimates Program at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute assisted in revising Boston’s figures. And the Boston Redevelopment Authority provided specific data for the challenge that added 11,512 people to the city’s 2008 population estimate.

Census 2010: Counting Soldiers

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

From BryantCountyNews.net (of Georgia):

Denise Etheridge
Posted: Nov. 17, 2009  4:04 p.m.
Updated: Nov. 18, 2009 1 a.m.

Local officials hope to change the way the national government will count deployed soldiers in the upcoming 2010 Census.

Soldiers are counted as residents of their “state of record” rather than counted as residents of the local area in which they are living at the time they deploy, confirmed Lauren Lewis, Partnership Specialist. Therefore, an estimated 14,000 soldiers assigned to Fort Stewart and who live in Hinesville and surrounding communities will not now be counted as part of the local population when they deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This is how it is done nationwide,” Lewis explained. She said military personnel who will be serving overseas when the Census is taken will be added to their home states’ population figures.

Lewis oversees a 10-county area that includes Bryan, Liberty, Effingham, Tattnall, Glynn, Evans, Chatham, Long, McIntosh and Toombs counties.

Officials from Liberty County, Hinesville and other local cities have signed and sent a letter to U.S. Rep.

Jack Kingston and U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson requesting their support in changing the way the Census currently counts active duty service members. Community leaders continue to stress the impact population has in determining the amount of money the federal government distributes to states, and states, in turn, apportions to counties and cities.

Jeff Ricketson, director of the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership, said a dialogue began last week at a partnership meeting about the Census and how deployed military members are counted. Ricketson said local leaders are concerned their cities and counties – particularly Hinesville and Liberty County – will be financially penalized over a 10-year period based on the Census count.

The letter, he said, was sent to Georgia’s Congressional Delegation. The partnership includes the counties of Liberty, Bryan, Long and Tattnall, and the cities located in these counties.

Cash Cuts May Cost California Billions

Friday, November 20th, 2009

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

By Marissa Lagos

(11-16) 04:00 PST Sacramento

California has slashed the amount of money it will spend on the 2010 census, a move that experts warn could lead to a flawed count and cost the state billions in federal aid over the next decade.

Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau – which recognized early that states wouldn’t have as much cash on hand – is redoubling its efforts. For example, in 2000, 18 census outreach workers were dedicated to the Bay Area; this year, the bureau assigned 160.

The U.S. government hands out about $400 billion to states and local jurisdictions every year based on population counts made during the nation’s decennial census. The money pays for local hospitals, schools, public housing, highways and unemployment insurance.

While the federal government pays census workers to take counts, states and local governments spend money on census outreach efforts to stress to residents – particularly those who may be wary – the importance of the census.

But because of deep budget cuts in the 2009-10 California spending plan, the state has earmarked less than $2 million for 2010 census outreach, down from nearly $25 million a decade ago. The cut in state census outreach funds is a problem that federal officials said is playing out across the country.

In California, the cut means many counties, which 10 years ago received grants from the state for outreach in addition to using their own money, will get little or no state funding for 2010 census outreach. Some counties struggling with their own fiscal problems also have cut local funding for census outreach.

Undercounts costly

Sonny Le, a spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said outreach is critical to ensure residents fill out the census forms that will be delivered to every home in the United States in March. Many people don’t understand the reason for filling out the form, while others are reticent to share information with the federal government.

Each uncounted resident could result in the loss of $1,000 a year in federal funding for a state, according to the nonprofit Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees.

Ted Wang, a census consultant working for the group, said state and local outreach efforts play a critical role in communicating with populations that historically have been difficult to count.

An undercount also could cost California a congressional seat for the first time in its 150-year history, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said.

In 2000, 70 percent of the U.S. census forms that were sent out in California were returned – though only 58 percent were expected, said Eric Alborg, a spokesman for the California Complete Count Committee, a group formed by the governor in June to oversee the state’s census outreach.

Even with a higher-than-anticipated rate of response, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar (Los Angeles County), estimated that California lost $2 billion to $3 billion in federal funding over the past decade because some people were not counted.

“If this year is a bad count, how many more billions could we lose?” Fuentes said.

The governor’s office defended the cuts as necessary and pointed out that in 2000 – at the height of the dot-com boom – the state was flush with cash.

‘Hard to count’ groups

“Given the breadth of the recession and the toll on state revenues, we had to make cutbacks in virtually every area,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, who added that state officials recognize the importance of the count. “We’re pleased we are able to commit resources for outreach efforts to reach individuals that are hard to count.”

California is home to 10 of the nation’s 50 counties with the largest “hard to count” populations, which include people of color, young adults, immigrants and low-income residents. Alameda and San Francisco counties are among the 10 counties, topped by Los Angeles County.

People harder to find

Further compounding the challenge is the economic and political climate, experts said. The financial crisis, including the waves of foreclosures, has forced people into homelessness or nontraditional housing, making them hard to find.

Officials said some immigrant populations are expected to be even more wary of the count than usual because of an uptick in immigration raids and anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent years – including an attempt by several Republican U.S. senators to exclude undocumented residents from the count and require respondents to disclose their immigration status. The amendment was defeated, but sponsor David Vitter, R-La., has vowed to raise the issue again.

To make up for the cut in state census funds, the state is working closely with elected, religious, nonprofit, community and educational leaders to develop plans to reach out to residents and get accurate counts via the California Complete Count Committee.

The state is also developing a Web site that will offer tool kits in census outreach to community partners.

Meanwhile, some local jurisdictions are trying to bridge the gap left by state cuts. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties ponied up money in their budgets to fund local efforts. For the first time, San Francisco created a “complete count committee,” which includes community, business, labor and nonprofit leaders to help with outreach.

Still, serious challenges lie ahead, says Adrienne Pon, who is leading San Francisco’s efforts.

“There are no (state) funds this time around, and populations are more dispersed and diverse … (so) we’re trying to be more street smart and direct outreach mobilization efforts,” she said. The largely African American Bayview-Hunters Point “had the lowest rate of return in 2000. We know of eight neighborhoods like that one which we are targeting.”

The Suitland Files: Inside The Census Bureau (Part 2)

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

I apologize for taking so long to post the second half of the series that I started nearly two weeks ago, but I’ve been traveling extensively and things were getting quite hectic. Without further ado, I present to you an inside look into my meeting with top communications/public relations/press officials at the Census Bureau’s HQ in Washington, DC:

After making idle chit-chat about Europe, climate change, and Dr. Groves’ travel habits (like any good reporter, I try to extract information wherever possible) for more than half an hour with two private security guards inside their security booth on the perimeter of the Census Bureau’s fenced off headquarters (they refused to let me sit on a bench outside even though it was a warm day…), I was greeted by Derick Moore (who Steve Jost authorizes to make the official Census Bureau comments on MyTwoCensus posts) and Eun Kim, a new Census Bureau PR official who until very recently was a DC reporter for Gannett (hmmm…I wonder why she jumped over to the dark side…).

After clearing a round of metal detectors, I made my way up the elevator with my two aforementioned handlers. I was led to a waiting room where I made some chit chat with Derick and Eun who each told me about their careers in private sector media. (I pray every day that the allure of a solid government salary with good benefits doesn’t one day catch up with me too…) Steve Jost, chowing down on a sandwich and french fries, returned and had us follow him into his office. We all sat down, with me at the head of the table. With white hair and a bit of scruff on his face, Jost wasn’t the devilish and egotistical Nazi I expected he might be, but rather a jovial guy who immediately poked fun at my comments about him on this site. I replied that I made those comments when I was thousands of miles away in the safety of my own home, and I had never expected to be sitting down with him in person. But I had no regrets. My job is to be a watchdog, and a vigilant watchdog I will be.

Last to arrive at our meeting was Stephen Buckner, the mouthpiece of the 2010 Census (spokesman) who had the boyish charm of a high school quarterback. I’m sure that fifteen years ago he easily cruised his way to a victory during elections for homecoming king.

Jost was the leader of this round-table, so between french fries he started firing off all of the positive accomplishments that he and his team have made, while clearly avoiding any of the shortcomings. Here’s a rundown of the most interesting things that he said:

1. High unemployment rates and homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure will cause problems with the 2010 Census.

2. The hardest group to count is “young, unattached people” who move frequently, only have cell phones, are between jobs or studies, etc. — NOT immigrants or minorities, as one might expect from all of the Census Bureau’s hard-to-count group advertising…(MyTwoCensus will investigate this further in the near future!)

3. The Census Bureau has created a series of ads using pop music…get ready to find these on your TV screens starting in early January.

4. The participation rate in the Census increased for the first time since 1970 in 2000, despite general trends that fewer and fewer people are involved in civic activities like voting, performing jury duty, etc. Hopefully they can once again reverse this trend in 2010.

5. 95% of media consumers will be reached multiple times by 2010 Census advertising campaigns.

6. 53% of 2010 Census advertising is local. 47% is national. (Note: MyTwoCensus has not heard back yet as to whether our proposal to let the Census Bureau advertise for the 2010 Census on this site was accepted…)

7. Spoiler Alert: Sesame Street will be featuring a 2010 Census storyline via The Count and Rosita characters.

8. 2010.Census.gov was redesigned.

9. Though 173 forms of social media have been integrated with Census Bureau awareness efforts, no I-Phone Application has been created for the 2010 Census.

10. The 2010 Census forms will be mailed to all households in America (hopefully) on March 17, 2010. (Let’s hope drunken St. Patty’s day revelers don’t interfere with the efforts of the U.S. Postal Service…)

11. When selecting advertisements for the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau asks the creative directors of 12 different advertising firms to submit proposals via a “creative rumble.”

12. Hopefully there won’t be a repeat of the 2000 Advance Letter Debacle in 2010…

13. There will be extra Census Bureau staff in New Orleans to personally hand deliver 2010 Census questionnaires to every household.

14. The address canvassing portion of the 2010 Census provided data that there are approximately 134 million individual housing units in the US, down from original estimates of 140 million.

15. Many addresses in places like Las Vegas where construction on homes was started but never finished have been deleted from the 2010 Census rolls.

16. Very, very, very few people hired to work for the Census Bureau as temporary workers have quit during the 2009-2010 cycle, as other jobs are extremely scarce.

17. On November 17 at 9:30am, Dr. Robert M. Groves will be holding his next monthly “State of the 2010 Census” address…

I was given some handouts (drawings of a 2010 Census logo on a NASCAR racecar that will be unveiled soon), portions of powerpoints (that showed me data about levels of Census participation), and had the opportunity to see one of the hip-hop music based commercials that was recently shot in LA and will soon be airing nationwide. It was a smooth operation, and my questions were answered well. Were the answers necessarily honest? No. But did the PR team effectively do their jobs to give give off the image of squeaky clean 2010 Census communications operations? Absolutely.

Prison Spotlight: The Diversity Myth

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Here’s an interesting angle about the 2010 Census from a Kansas City Star opinion piece:

How Places With Prisons Falsely Boost “Diversity”

By Marie Sanchez

The 2010 U.S. census will soon be upon us, and by now you may have heard one of the patriotic pitches to comply.

Every breathing soul must be tallied during the massive federal endeavor, the national headcount taken every decade. The census is central to the functioning of our democracy, we’re told.

The data are used to distribute $400 billion in government spending, to compile countless reports on educational needs, to plan for economic development and formulate public policy.

More important, census data have a direct bearing on congressional districts and the Electoral College. The information is crucial to help us uphold the constitutional principle of one person, one vote.

So why, then, is the federal government gearing up to distort this vital set of data by how it accounts for the nation’s booming prison population? Prisoners are counted, not according to their home address but where they are incarcerated.

At a glance, this might not seem like a big deal — until the details of our nation’s 2 million inmates are broken down. Rural communities with large prison populations suddenly appear to be bastions of diversity, while those without prisons continue to see their population numbers slide.

On average, inmates serve for 34 months before returning to their original communities. They never shop, dine, attend school or otherwise become members of the towns and cities where they are warehoused while paying their debt to society.

One distortion this way of counting population causes is what some activists call “prison-based gerrymandering.” Because population figures are used to determine legislative districts, voting power is diluted in some areas and falsely ramped up in others.

The NAACP, no doubt recalling how black people were once considered three-fifths of a person for the purpose of representation, was among the first organizations to call for reform. Because 12 percent of black men in their 20s and 30s are in prison at any one time, urban areas lose out on the strength of those uncounted inmates.

But it’s actually rural communities, where prisons are often built, that suffer the most from the distortions. Peter Wagner, a Massachusetts-based advocate for the Prison Policy Initiative, has found 173 counties where more than half of the black population is made up of inmates. Seven state senate districts in New York alone, he argues, would need to be redrawn if inmates were omitted from population figures for the areas where they are doing time.

Local officials in some parts of the country have responsibly attempted to eliminate the distortions. Bravo. The town of Anamosa, Iowa, changed the way it elects city council members after discovering that the population of a state penitentiary created a ward where a candidate got elected on the strength of two write-in votes. His inmate constituency of about 1,300 prisoners was roughly as populous as the town’s other wards.

With census-takers already completing the process of verifying addresses for the spring headcount, it’s too late for the government to change how it plans to conduct the 2010 census. Recording the true home address of inmates would be costly (an estimated $250 million), and many prisons don’t have the information readily available.

What the government can do to help rectify the situation is release the prison data earlier than planned, in time for states to take the information and delete those numbers for redistricting purposes.

Criminals forfeit a lot when they get locked up. They lose the right to vote, in all but two states.

They lose daily interaction with loved ones and the chance to engage in meaningful work. What they shouldn’t lose is the sense that their presence counts.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send e-mail to msanchez@kcstar.com.

Avencia Launches Redistricting the Nation.com, a Ground-Breaking Public Engagement Web Application

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Philadelphia, PA – October 21, 2009 – Following the upcoming 2010 census reports, states and municipalities will engage in a nationwide legislative redistricting process.  But in some parts of the country, the redrawing of district boundaries for partisan advantage has been rampant, which ultimately reduces the impact of individual voters on the election, resulting in lower voter turnout, and less competitive races.  The expanded use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has created both new potential for sophisticated gerrymandering and a possible means of implementing unbiased redistricting. 
With Redistricting 2011 around the corner, Avencia Incorporated, a Philadelphia-based geographic analysis and software development firm, is releasing the “Redistricting The Nation” (www.redistrictingthenation.com) website to provide the public with better information about the legislative redistricting process and tools that support and encourage fair representation and competitive elections.  
The site allows citizens and advocacy groups to:Enter their address (nation-wide) and view the “shape” of their federal, state, and local election districts.Learn who is in charge of drawing the boundaries of their election districts (e.g., independent commissions or elected representatives). Compare the “compactness” scores of their election district to other, similar districts (less compact and unusually shaped districts are more likely to be gerrymandered).Draw new district boundaries on a map and generate compactness scores for the new district. Avencia is also concurrently releasing a revised version of its 2006 study of gerrymandering (“Redraw the Map on Redistricting 2010”).  The new study expands the scope and methodology of Avencia’s original “Gerrymandering Index” to include state-level districts, council districts, and political wards for several new cities, and introduces three additional techniques for measuring districts’ compactness.  While poor compactness scores do not prove gerrymandering, they are a measurable indication of the practice.
The whitepaper ranks the ten most gerrymandered local, state, and federal districts in the country based on four different measures of compactness.  The study reveals some interesting findings. For instance, at the Congressional level, both FL-22 and NC-12 rank high in the study’s Top Ten for all four measures of compactness, while some of the worst offenders at the local level are: Philadelphia, PA-District 7; Miami, FL-District 2; Jacksonville, FL-District 11; Houston, TX-District E; New York, NY-District 4; and Philadelphia, PA-District 5.
Avencia is no stranger to political and election-focused projects.  Earlier this month, Avencia and Committee of Seventy, the Philadelphia region’s premier non-partisan government watchdog group, launched a sister website to the “Redistricting The Nation” site, dedicated to raising public awareness in the Greater Philadelphia area about the potential impact of the 2010 census on federal, state, and local election districts, available at www.redistrictingthenation.com/philadelphia.  During the November 2008 presidential election, the firm built a Voting Incident Tracking and Mapping web-based application that tracked voting problems in real-time to enable Committee of Seventy’s record-setting 1,000 person volunteer force to respond faster and more efficiently.  Avencia also worked for multiple candidates in races to generate campaign walking and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) maps, and most recently generated over 400 campaign financing analysis maps for MapLight.org for their ‘Remote Control’ report.
“It is exciting to be able to leverage our global database of legislative districts and GIS analysis tools to promote good government and nonpartisan redistricting,” said Robert Cheetham, Avencia’s CEO. “It is a process that can be easily manipulated to protect incumbents and discourage competitive races. Our goal with this new site is to both educate the public early in the Census 2010 cycle, and to create software tools that will promote a more open, citizen-driven and transparent redistricting process in 2011.”
Political geography is at the center of several ongoing projects at Avencia.  The white paper analysis of compactness of election districts was made possible by Avencia’s Cicero product, a legislative district matching and elected official lookup web API, developed for local governments, unions, businesses, and non-profit political and advocacy organizations to match citizens with their local, state, and national elected officials.  Cicero taps a global database of legislative district maps and information about politicians, legislative bodies, and election events.  Initially beginning with only a few cities, Avencia has grown the database to include national, state and local legislatures for the United States and several other countries and made an interactive version available to the public.

 

About Avencia
Avencia is an award-winning, Philadelphia-based geographic analysis and software development firm specializing in the creation of innovative location-based software tools to enhance decision-making processes.  Avencia believes these location-based technologies can help promote the emergence of more dynamic, vibrant communities. For more information, visit www.avencia.com

Senators try to exclude illegal immigrants from 2010 Census

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana is not a fan of the 2010 Census. MyTwoCensus does not support the proposed amendment that is discussed below. H/t to Haya El Nasser of USA Today for the following story:

A controversial amendment that would require the Census Bureau to ask for the first time whether people are in the USA illegally is headed for a Senate vote Wednesday.

Proposed last week by Republican Sens.David Vitter of Louisiana and Bob Bennett ofUtah, the amendment would exclude illegal immigrants from the population count used to allocate congressional seats after the 2010 Census. It also would require the Census to ask people whether they are citizens.

“Illegal aliens should not be included for the purposes of determining representation in Congress, and that’s the bottom line here,” Vitter says. If enacted, the amendment to an appropriations bill would stop funding of the 2010 Census unless the changes are made.

The amendment comes less than six months before 2010 Census questionnaires are mailed to 135 million households. About 425 million forms have already been printed, according to the bureau. Some are in different languages; others are duplicates that will go to houses that do not respond to the first mailing.

Senate Census panel asks tough questions about 2010 count

Thursday, October 8th, 2009
H/t to Max Cacas of Federal News Radio for the following update on yesterday’s Senate meeting:

The clock continues to tick down to the April 1st start of the 2010 Census, and a Senate oversight subcommittee continues to focus on efforts for an accurate count of the nation’s population next year.

By Max Cacas
Reporter
FederalNewsRadio

With less than 6 months to go before the start of the 2010 decennial census, officials are still coping with uncertainty surrounding the next constitutionally-mandated count of the nation’s population.

On Wednesday, the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security, which has oversight over the U.S. Census Bureau, conducted its latest hearing on what will likely be one of the most costly censuses in history.

One of the areas of concern says Robert Goldenkopf, director of Strategic Issues with the Government Accountability Office, is all the uncertainty that underlies the on-again, off again planning for the 2010 census. GAO named the census to its “high risk list” last year because of:

Weakness in its IT management, problems with handheld computers used to collect data, and uncertainty over the final cost of the census.

Doctor Robert Groves, the new census director, says the bureau is generally making good progress toward resolving a long list of problems related to the 2010 census, but says one thing keeping him up late at night is concern about just how many Americans will fill out their forms, and get them back in the mail as soon as possible.

The behavior of the American public in March and April of next year is a big uncertainty in regards to that. Scores of millions of dollars will be spent following up with houses that don’t return the mail questionnaire. Its important to hit that target, that estimate well.

Groves told the panel that the vacancy rate of homes due to the recession, and related home foreclosures, could complicate the effort to have as many people as possible return their census forms in the first round of the count between the first week of April and mid-May.

Director Groves also told the panel that even at this late date, the Census Bureau continues to develop software to handle the paper-based “Non-Response Followup” stage of the census. This was a part of the census that had been slated to be performed using a highly automated system in conjunction with the controversial hand-held computers. Last year, census officials decided not to use the handhelds for this portion of the census count because development of the automation system was lagging far behind other portions of the census.

Lawmakers continued to press for the use of the Internet and web-based tools to speed the count and reduce costs. But Groves told Senator John McCain (R.-Az.) that it is too late in preparations for the count to integrate web-based data gathering in the 2010 census. Groves did say that in August of next year, as the formal census count is being concluded, there is a small-scale test planned to gauge the possibility of one day using the web for the 2020 census.

Under questioning, Groves also revealed that as recently as 5 years ago, there was a proposal that a web-based census follow-up pilot program be conducted in college campus dormitories during the 2010 count to test the viability of using new technologies to improve the count, but said the idea was never formally made a part of next year’s population tally. On Wednesday, several lawmakers, including McCain, expressed support for the possibility of short-term legislation that would provide funding and support for a dorm-based pilot program for the census.

Will Iowa Be The Best In The Nation In 2010?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

A quick piece of info from Radio Iowa:

Last year’s floods could impact 2010 Census in Iowa

by Dar Danielson on September 14, 2009

Beth Henning of the State Data Center is the Iowa liaison for the U.S. Census Bureau says Iowans’ civic-mindedness played a role in the good return rate, along with a high rate of home ownership. But she says this time it’s going to be hard to count everyone who lost their homes in the floods.

Iowa had the best rate in the country for returning census forms in the 2000 Census, but last year’s floods and other factors may make it hard to repeat that good performance in the upcoming 2010 count. Seventy-six-percent of Iowans returned their forms last time, compared with 67% nationwide.

Louisiana GOP Hopes To Take Drastic Measures To Prevent The Loss Of A Congressional Seat

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Here’s the scoop from the New Orleans Times-Picayune (click HERE for complete article):

BATON ROUGE — The chairman of the state Republican Party said Saturday the state party is looking at ways to prevent “illegal aliens” from being counted in the 2010 federal census. The goal is to preserve a congressional seat for Louisiana, he said.

Roger Villere of Metairie told the Republican State Central Committee, the party’s governing board, that if illegal immigrants are counted in the census, Louisiana likely will see its congressional delegation drop from seven to six House members. House seats are apportioned based on each state’s population in the census.

Villere said states such as Texas and California would pick up representation in Congress because of the large number of immigrants living in them. Federal policy is to count all residents, regardless of their legal status, at the time the census is taken.

“If they do not count the illegal aliens, we would not lose a seat” despite population declines caused by recent hurricanes, Villere said.

“We feel like we need to protect our sovereignty,” he said. “If we take the illegals out of the mix, we could retain one of our congressmen. … We are investigating our options. This is something we are seriously looking at.”

Villere said a decision will be made by year’s end on whether to file a lawsuit or lobby the administration and Congress for a policy change to exclude illegal immigrants. He said he has been in discussions with “people of national stature” on the matter but refused to name them.

“It is not a Republican problem,” he said after the committee’s quarterly meeting. “It is a Louisiana problem.”

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, estimated that 8 million illegal immigrants living in the country are now getting health care paid for by taxpayers.

During the meeting, committee members rejected a plan to hold a nominating convention in Lafayette, Baton Rouge or New Orleans next year to rally the party around one candidate each for a U.S. Senate race and the seven congressional seats.

A convention would energize and unify the party while drawing media attention, according to main proponent Mike Chittom of Baton Rouge.

Cali Gets Boo$t From Endowment

Friday, August 28th, 2009

California’s task of counting all of its citizens just became a wee bit easier. Thanks to the California Endowment, an additional $4 million has been added to the pot of the deficit-stricken state:

LOS ANGELES – (Business Wire) To ensure that every Californian is counted in the 2010 U.S. Census, the state’s largest, private health foundation today announced that it will make $4 million in grants towards a statewide campaign that will promote the importance of participating in the Census, particularly in the large number of “hard to count” communities throughout the state.

“Hard to count” populations are among California’s most vulnerable residents – low-income communities and communities of color.

The federal government makes funding allocations based on population counts from the Census, and for every resident not counted, the state will lose an estimated $11,500 in federal funding over the course of 10 years according to 2009 data from the Brookings Institution.

“At a time when the state is facing declining revenues, it is critical to the people of California that we ensure every resident is counted so we don’t lose out on federal funding essential to the health and well-being of all Californians,” said Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of The California Endowment.

“If 10 percent of California’s population of 37 million is not counted, the state stands to lose $42.4 billion in federal funding over the next decade,” Ross added.

About one-third of that funding is directly tied to health services, while all of the funding is tied to individual and family well-being which, in turn, is a significant component of health status.

California is home to 10 of the 50 counties in the nation that have been identified as being the hardest to count: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Fresno, Riverside, Alameda, Sacramento, Kern and San Francisco. These counties are home to large populations that have been historically underrepresented in the Census, including immigrants, people of color, low-income communities, rural areas and those who live in multi-family housing.

Next Year’s Census Count Promises to Rejigger Political Map

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Here’s an interesting forecast on redistricting as a result of the 2010 Census from the Wall Street Journal (click HERE for the full piece):

By Stephanie Simon

The federal government has hired tens of thousands of temporary workers to prepare for the 2010 Census — a population count that could remake the political map even as the foreclosure crisis makes it more difficult to account for millions of dislocated Americans.

Early analysis indicates that Texas will likely be the biggest winner since the prior count a decade ago, picking up three or four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and Election Data Services Inc., a political-consulting firm. Other states poised to gain at least one seat include Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Florida and Utah.

Growth in these states is driven by factors including migration from other states, immigration and birth rates. The economic crisis has put the brakes on some of this expansion — Florida just reported its first year-over-year population decline since 1946 — but in general, Sun Belt states have grown faster than others over the past decade.

Since the number of seats in the House is capped at 435, the gains in the South and West have to be offset by losses elsewhere.

New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts and the recession-battered industrial states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania each stand to lose a House seat. So does Louisiana, where the population still hasn’t rebounded from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which displaced so many residents that census takers face a difficult task in tallying them all.

A state’s votes in the presidential Electoral College depend on the size of its congressional delegation, so the census will likely tilt the balance of power slightly, with reliably Republican “red states” gaining several votes while Democratic strongholds such as New England lose clout.

[Balance of Power chart]

The effect in Congress is less clear, said Karl Eschbach, the Texas state demographer. Texas, for instance, is solidly red when it comes to presidential elections. But Democrats have begun to make inroads in the state Legislature, buoyed by a flow of newcomers from more-liberal states such as California. So political analysts believe one or more of Texas’s new seats in Congress may well translate into a Democratic pickup.

No Change In Census Position On Missionaries: Utah Loses Again

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

UPDATE: More solid reporting on this issue is available in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Back in June I wrote, “In America’s last decennial headcount, Utah was 800 citizens short of gaining a fourth 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.” Well, as the AP just reported, “The U.S. Census Bureau has told Utah’s elected leaders it won’t count Mormon missionaries serving overseas in the nation’s next head count.”

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Census Bureau has told Utah’s elected leaders it won’t count Mormon missionaries serving overseas in the nation’s next head count.

Census Bureau officials, rejecting Utah’s lobbying efforts for the better part of a decade, say there’s no way to reliably count the overseas missionaries.

Utah leaders say the omission cost the state an extra congressional seat in 2000, when the state fell just 857 people short of receiving the last available slot in the U.S. House.

The Census Bureau does count military and federal employees serving overseas, and Rob Bishop, R-Utah, says it should include Mormons on proselytizing missions.

“The bottom line should still be fairness and accuracy,” Bishop said. “If we are currently counting some people abroad and not others, there is just no logic to that whatsoever.”

An experiment in counting Americans abroad in 2004 turned into a “colossal failure,” said Louis Kincannon, a former Census Bureau director under President Bill Clinton. Few Americans responded to an outreach program in three sample countries — Mexico, France and Kuwait.

A government consulting firm, Election Data Services, estimates that 6 million Americans are living overseas. But federal officials say there’s no dependable way to track down citizens who move around and may not want to be found because they don’t want to pay U.S. taxes.

A review by the Government Accountability Office found that counting Americans overseas is impractical, and it suggested the Census Bureau abandon the effort. The bureau says overseas counts produce erratic results that could distort state-by-state counts.

Census officials said that if Congress wants them to count all citizens overseas, it will have to enact legislation making it a requirement.

Utah sued the Census Bureau in 2001 in an attempt to get the military count thrown out, saying it unfairly benefited North Carolina, which claimed the 435th House seat a year earlier largely because of the state’s military bases, such as the U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg and the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Utah’s claims and ruled the Census Bureau enjoys wide discretion on counting.

Florida’s Population On The Decline

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Check out the following piece from the St. Petersburg Times (Click HERE for full version):

Florida’s Population Shed About 50,000 Residents

By JAMES THORNER
St. Petersburg Times

Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.

The growth state is officially shrinking.

Hit by a double-whammy of the housing crash and the recession, Florida has lost population for the first time since the demobilization of hundreds of thousands of soldiers after World War II.

University of Florida demographers will report today that the state shed about 50,000 residents between April 2008 and April 2009. That should knock the number of Floridians down a notch from the previously reported 18.3 million.

It’s the first time since 1946 that Florida has been a net population loser. Even during the Great Depression, new residents swept into the state in search of work and leisure. But the severe housing contraction, combined with the sputtering of Florida’s job creation machine, has eclipsed the state’s former gravitational pull.

Our Unconstitutional Census

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Here is an excerpt from a very interesting op-ed that was published in today’s Wall Street Journal (For the entire article, CLICK HERE):

California could get nine House seats it doesn’t deserve because illegal aliens will be counted in 2010.

By JOHN S. BAKER AND ELLIOTT STONECIPHER

Mr. Baker teaches constitutional law at Louisiana State University. Mr. Stonecipher is a Louisiana pollster and demographic analyst.

Next year’s census will determine the apportionment of House members and Electoral College votes for each state. To accomplish these vital constitutional purposes, the enumeration should count only citizens and persons who are legal, permanent residents. But it won’t.

Instead, the U.S. Census Bureau is set to count all persons physically present in the country—including large numbers who are here illegally. The result will unconstitutionally increase the number of representatives in some states and deprive some other states of their rightful political representation. Citizens of “loser” states should be outraged. Yet few are even aware of what’s going on.

In 1790, the first Census Act provided that the enumeration of that year would count “inhabitants” and “distinguish” various subgroups by age, sex, status as free persons, etc. Inhabitant was a term with a well-defined meaning that encompassed, as the Oxford English Dictionary expressed it, one who “is a bona fide member of a State, subject to all the requisitions of its laws, and entitled to all the privileges which they confer.”

Thus early census questionnaires generally asked a question that got at the issue of citizenship or permanent resident status, e.g., “what state or foreign country were you born in?” or whether an individual who said he was foreign-born was naturalized. Over the years, however, Congress and the Census Bureau have added inquiries that have little or nothing to do with census’s constitutional purpose.

By 1980 there were two census forms. The shorter form went to every person physically present in the country and was used to establish congressional apportionment. It had no question pertaining to an individual’s citizenship or legal status as a resident. The longer form gathered various kinds of socioeconomic information including citizenship status, but it went only to a sample of U.S. households. That pattern was repeated for the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

The 2010 census will use only the short form. The long form has been replaced by the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey. Dr. Elizabeth Grieco, chief of the Census Bureau’s Immigration Statistics Staff, told us in a recent interview that the 2010 census short form does not ask about citizenship because “Congress has not asked us to do that.”

Because the census (since at least 1980) has not distinguished citizens and permanent, legal residents from individuals here illegally, the basis for apportionment of House seats has been skewed. According to the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey data (2007), states with a significant net gain in population by inclusion of noncitizens include Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas. (There are tiny net gains for Hawaii and Massachusetts.)

This makes a real difference. Here’s why:

According to the latest American Community Survey, California has 5,622,422 noncitizens in its population of 36,264,467. Based on our round-number projection of a decade-end population in that state of 37,000,000 (including 5,750,000 noncitizens), California would have 57 members in the newly reapportioned U.S. House of Representatives.

However, with noncitizens not included for purposes of reapportionment, California would have 48 House seats (based on an estimated 308 million total population in 2010 with 283 million citizens, or 650,000 citizens per House seat). Using a similar projection, Texas would have 38 House members with noncitizens included. With only citizens counted, it would be entitled to 34 members.

Competitive Census Counting in New Jersey

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

The following story comes to us from NJ.com (click here for the full version):

As 2010 Census nears, Jersey City eyes top spot in state

by Ralph R. Ortega/The Star-Ledger

Sunday August 02, 2009, 7:43 AM

Jersey City is No. 2, but has its eyes on the top spot.

Newark, meanwhile, is entrenched like an old champion not ready to give up its title.

Mahala Gaylord/The Star-LedgerFans at All Points West Music Festival on Friday in Jersey City, which is inching its way closer to Newark in total population.

Up for grabs is the right to be known as the largest city in New Jersey and the winner will be crowned after the 2010 Census. At stake beyond those bragging rights are billions of dollars in population-based funding — money that has both cities ramping up their efforts ahead of the count.

“It’s going to be close,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy last month.

But Newark officials say there’s no contest.

“Unless they take one of the most historic population jumps of any city in America, not just in New Jersey, they’re not going to catch us,” Newark Mayor Cory Booker said.

The latest population estimates show what Jersey City is up against. Newark has 278,980 residents — a cushion of 37,866 over its Hudson County rival across Newark Bay.

Despite the long-shot odds of Jersey City coming out ahead of Newark any time soon, the Census will determine how $300 billion will be doled out by the federal government each year for a decade, starting next year, said Raul Vicente, a spokesman for the Census. That means officials across New Jersey are doing everything they can to make sure they’re not under-counted

Trouble in Florida For Hatians

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

There were significant troubles in Florida during the 2000 Census that resulted in many Census Bureau employees being fired from their jobs and a recount taken in certain areas of the state. Will there be similar problems in 2010? Many Floridians, especially minorities, fear just that. Check out the following reports from the Sun Sentinel:

When census takers visit Walter Hunter’s mostly black community in Pompano Beach next year for the big, every-10-years count, he predicts they will encounter a lot of slammed doors.

They are likely to get a similar reception in Delmond Desira’s Haitian neighborhood in Delray Beach, where many don’t understand how filling out the 10-question form would improve their lives.

Hunter and Desira live in South Florida enclaves the U.S. Census Bureau ranks among the hardest to count: pockets of Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Park, Delray Beach and Belle Glade.

In those areas, with heavy concentrations of immigrants who don’t speak English, poor people and rental units, almost half the residents did not return mailed surveys for the last big count, in 2000.

Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are among the 50 counties in the nation with the most people living in hard-to-count areas, according to a report released in April by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a children’s advocacy group.

This time, the Census Bureau plans to work harder to reach these people, through the schools, a more creative multi-language campaign and a shorter survey form — 10 questions that take just 10 minutes, the catch phrase goes. Volunteers will put up signs in beauty salons and convenience stores and get the word out at houses of worship and nonprofit centers.

This fall, grade-school children will study the census in math and geography classes, and they will take home census materials for their parents. In January, the Census Bureau will launch an advertising campaign in 28 languages urging participation. The form is not available in Creole, however, and critics say that will hinder the count of South Florida’s large Haitian population.

And another story:

Some of the people that make up Florida’s Haitian community may not partake in one of the most important events of this nation – the 2010 Census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, heavily concentrated areas where Haitians live, such as Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach are very hard to tally when it comes to the once-a-decade count. This is mainly due to the language barrier that most Haitians, many being immigrants, encounter when it comes to understanding and completing the surveys issued by the Census Bureau.

Although the Broward County‘s Census 2010 Complete Count Committee is strategizing ways to get to those who were missed back in 2000 by producing informational guides in various languages, including Creole, the actual census is not offered in Haiti’s national language. Despite the Bureau’s outreach effort, it may still have difficulty reaching these communities. As a Haitian-American, I can attest that many Haitian residents, especially those who do not speak English, will probably disregard the survey once they receive it in the mail. This is simply because they do not understand the importance and / or the basis of the Census. In other words, such a survey is considered junk mail.

I believe an effective strategy would be to educate the community on what exactly the Census is, the concept behind it and why it is imperative that they participate. Nevertheless, the fact that the Census Bureau is launching an advertising campaign in 28 languages, except for Creole, will contribute to the hindrance in the counts, at least in South Florida. While some Haitian immigrants and / or residents may rely on their English-speaking children to translate the Census survey, a majority of them will not have that advantage. Those who come to the United States together as a family, but are without relatives in the country, will be the hardest to reach.

This was very much the case for my parents, until my siblings and I came into the picture. Though they were able to survive on their own, the fact that we came around made life much easier for them. For example, learning about the Census at school allowed me to go home and look out for the surveys, as well as assist my parents in answering the questions. Now they have a better understanding of the Census and are capable of filling it out on their own.

Hopefully, the Haitian children that are starting school this fall will not only learn census in math and geography classes, but will also be able to pass on the knowledge to their parents. If not, then the Census Bureau may want to develop a new marketing campaign in Creole.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Wants To Steal Your Federal Dollars

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Thanks to Corey Dade of the Wall Street Journal for the story below:

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is calling on former residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to claim their old city addresses in next year’s census, drawing criticism for trying to circumvent rules for winning federal funds.

The mayor — encouraged that New Orleans has thrown off its post-Katrina malaise to become the U.S.’s fastest-growing big city by percentage — wants the U.S. Census Bureau to grant an exception for its former residents, currently living elsewhere, who want to rebuild homes in New Orleans.

There’s one problem: The mayor’s plan is illegal, according to the Census Bureau. Federal law requires the Census Bureau to count all U.S. residents where they reside as of April 1, 2010, when the nationwide tally will begin.

“Any individual who does something like that is going to hurt the place where they are living, and hurt New Orleans,” said Katherine Smith, a Census Bureau spokeswoman.

The stakes for localities are high. The census, which occurs every 10 years, is used to determine the disbursement of more than $300 billion in federal grants, as well as the reapportionment of congressional and state legislative seats for the next decade. Both procedures are based primarily on population size, with the largest jurisdictions traditionally receiving the most dollars and elected representatives.

Officials in other Louisiana cities criticized Mr. Nagin for threatening their efforts to secure funds for legitimate population gains, some of which resulted from Katrina victims fleeing New Orleans and surrounding parishes. One parish is Lafayette, located west of New Orleans, where the parish seat — the city of Lafayette — is the state’s only city to show a net population gain since 2000.

California could lose a House seat after 2010 census

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
H/T to Richard Simon of the LA Times for reporting on the following:

Reporting from Washington — Here’s yet another result of the bad economy: California’s congressional delegation is unlikely to grow and could even lose a seat after next year’s census for the first time since stagecoach days.

If the state loses a seat, it could weaken California’s clout in Washington and reduce the amount of federal money flowing to the state. It could also set off a game of political musical chairs, forcing two incumbents to run against each other.

As if that weren’t enough, the state that stands to gain the most new seats is California’s longtime rival, Texas, the second most populous state.

With the possible loss of a seat, “an accurate census becomes all the more important to California,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former staff director of the House census oversight subcommittee and a member of President Obama’s transition team for the census.

As California’s population has increased — through the booms of the 1880s, the post-World War II years and the 1980s — so has its clout in Congress.

The delegation has grown every time Congress has reapportioned House seats to reflect population changes. The state gained nine seats — the most ever — after the 1930 census, seven after 1950, eight after 1960, seven after 1990 and one after the 2000 count.

The delegation now stands at 53, the largest of any state.

California neighbors Arizona and Nevada are expected to gain seats, as are Texas, Florida and Georgia. Texas alone could pick up as many as four. Michigan and Ohio, hard hit by the recession, are among the states expected to lose seats.

California’s population has been growing at a slower rate than those of a number of other states, a key factor in apportioning congressional seats. It grew 1.1% last year, its lowest rate in a decade.

“The economy, no doubt, held down the growth rate in California,” said UC Berkeley political scientist Bruce Cain.

Demographers believe that the size of California’s delegation will most likely remain unchanged — still significant because of its history of growth — rather than decrease by one. But they also say the state is on the bubble.

“I would be very surprised if we lost a seat, but not at all surprised if we didn’t gain any, based on the job growth,” said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

The state is adding jobs at about the same rate as the national average after above-average job growth from the end of World War II until the early 1990s, when the economy suffered deeply from the collapse of California’s aerospace industry, Levy said.

The Golden State’s share of new immigrants — legal and illegal — has also dropped. The state has been drawing about one-sixth of new immigrants in recent years, down from one-third in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, said Jeff Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.

He added that the percentage of immigrants settling in the mountain states and Southeast has risen.

As immigration has slowed, more people have moved out of California to other states than into California from other states — a net loss of more than 435,000 and perhaps as many as 945,000 in the last four years.

“During recessions, when California’s unemployment rate is higher than the nation’s, as is the case right now, we tend to experience quite a bit of outmigration,” said Hans Johnson, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

The state’s population has grown, nonetheless, because births and continued, albeit slowed, immigration have outpaced deaths and people moving out of California.

“Population is driven by jobs and the economy. So in this next census, I think there will be a strong correlation to the regional and state economies and population,” said Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There’s little doubt that California is going to feel that in a special way.”

Still, the fate of the state’s delegation will remain unclear until after the census is completed, because the current population estimates vary.

If the state’s estimate of 12.6% population growth from 2000 to 2008 is correct, Johnson said, California could still gain a seat or two in Congress. Under the Census Bureau figures of 8.5% growth since 2000, the state’s congressional delegation is likely to remain unchanged.

Although the subject is arcane, size matters in Washington.

Not only is the census used to apportion strength in the House of Representatives and the electoral college, but dozens of federal aid programs are linked to population figures.

The possible loss of a congressional seat was cited by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month in creating a special panel to “make certain everyone is counted so that California gets its fair share of federal dollars and representation in Congress.”

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders has called for illegal immigrants to boycott the census to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to overhaul immigration laws, but a number of Latino House members from California have spoken out against a boycott, saying it could cost the state dearly. In its decennial count, the Census Bureau does not consider a person’s legal status.

Ironically, declining home values may deter Californians from selling their homes and leaving the state.

Mary Heim, chief of the state Department of Finance’s demographic research unit, said the number of people moving out of California to other states “may not reach the level of the 1990s because the economic slowdown is nationwide this time and not as concentrated in California as it was in the 1990s.”