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 ‘government’

And the Census Bureau is CLOSED FOR BUSINESS!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

http://www.census.gov/… just like the rest of the US government…

 

Letter to the editor from San Angelo, Texas: Census forms missing!

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Perhaps the below letter to the Standard-Times of San Angelo, Texas explains why Texas “participation rates” have been so low…A look at the San Angelo Take 10 map reveals that portions of this city have rates at 50% or 51%, which are far below the national average of 63% (as of yesterday at 4pm EST):

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Ruth Thompson, San Angelo

In the April 1 issue of the Standard-Times there were two articles on the 2010 census and the ongoing effort in San Angelo, specifically the “last official push to get people to mail their forms back in, called ‘March to the Mailbox.’”

Nice — except that people who never received the forms can’t easily mail them back in. I have talked to multiple neighbors on my street and no one received the census questionnaire.

I thought that would be an easy situation to remedy, but has anyone else tried to contact the local census officials? Of the two articles about the census in the April 1 issue of the Standard-Times, no phone numbers or points of contact were given.

I tried called the San Angelo city government — they suggested I call the Standard-Times. A lady there gave me two phone numbers. I called the first one and the individual who answered the phone apparently had never heard of the census. I called the second number, got an answering machine and left my name and phone number. Haven’t heard a word in response.

Sadly, everybody on my street will be a statistic — considered “hard to count or nonresponsive.” Personally, I don’t think the local census office cares.

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.