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.

Posts Tagged ‘2000’

Counting Americans Abroad in the 2010 Census

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

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.

Who was running the show during the Clinton years? Nobody!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

The Secretary of Commerce is the person ultimately responsible for the U.S. Census. The preparation for the 2000 Census was the responsibility of Bill Clinton’s administration, and the ultimate headcount was also his responsibility. Many people forget that even though George W. Bush was elected in 2000, he did not come to power until 2001, long after the 2000 Census was completed. After Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown’s tragic death in an air crash in the Balkans in 1996, the Commerce Department was run by a succession of four different individuals: Mickey Kantor (1996-1997), William M. Daley (1997-2000), Ron Mallett (acting head 2000), and Norman Minetta (2000-2001).

With so many people running the show, it’s unsurprising that the count from the 2000 headcount is most likely highly inaccurate, as there were poor PR/advertising/outreach efforts to encourage participation in the census and a noticeable lack of technology/computers used by the individuals who collected data in 2000.

Only now is the Census Bureau making efforts to combat the problems that started ten years ago. For instance: In 2000, one in six households received a long-form version of the census, which contained 53 questions spread over 40 pages. In 2010, all households will receive a simple 10-question form. In addition to Spanish (now standard on all forms alongside English), the census questionnaire will be available in Chinese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese.