It's April 1st: Census Day, Be Counted

UNDATED - Say cheese.  It's April 1st, Census Day, and workers are ready to take a statistical snapshot of the entire nation.

Census Day is the designated time to count and place everyone living in the country, regardless of age or status. The purpose is to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the states.

Census figures are also used for a host of other planning and funding purposes, including the disbursement of more than $400 billion in federal funds annually to states and communities.

Responding to the Census is a foundational act of endorsement in our democracy and one of the few civic duties of people living in the United States. Census figures will anchor almost every scientific American poll and study done during the coming 10 years, as they have been for decades.

The data collected and the figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau will be used by businesses that are seeking to locate new stores or factories; by highway and city planners who are configuring commute patterns, residential areas and zoning areas for proposed retail centers.

Across the country and, indeed, around the world, the most credible statistical information is followed by the words: "According to figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau." The Bureau's credibility relies on keeping the information you provide absolutely confidential. "We do not share any personally identifiable information with any other individual or agency, including the Internal Revenue Service or immigration authorities. In fact, every Census worker swears a privacy oath that he or she will not divulge any personal information or face fines of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison. We take the obligation seriously," said Kimberly Murphy, Media Specialist US Census Bureau- Dallas Regional Census Center.

"So stand up and be counted. Please take the 10 minutes needed to complete the 10 questions on the 2010 Census questionnaire and mail it back. Your information is needed to get a complete portrait of our country and to ensure that your community gets its fair share of political representation and federal funding. You and your community count and should be counted," Murphy said.

If you need help filling out the form, please call: 866-872-6868.

To get questionnaire assistance in Spanish, call 866-928-2010.

The 2010 Census is the 23rd since the nation's inception. The census has been conducted in the United States every decade since 1790, as required by Article 1, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution. ·

The 10 questions posed in today's census aren't very different from the six questions posed in the 1790 Census.

* Thomas Jefferson was the first director of what would become the Census Bureau; James Madison developed five of the six questions posed in the first census.

*The U.S. Census was the first census used to determine political representation for communities. Previous censuses – going back to Biblical times – were used mainly for tax-collection and conscription for labor and soldiers.

* Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing its information with any other agencies, including the IRS.

* It's a legal obligation to complete your Census form, but it's also your civic duty. And by completing your form and mailing it back, you're saving the government money – it costs the U.S. government 44 cents if you mail back your form. If you don't, the government spends an average of $57 for each house to hire temporary workers to visit your house to get the information.

"So, mail it back!" Murphy said.