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Other Editors Say…

Be Counted

Ohio and your hometown want you to fill out your census form. And you should do exactly that, for the good of the state, your community and you and your neighbors.

Oh, yes, and also to cut expenses in a federal budget desperately in need of slashing.

No matter how nosy the federal government might appear to be by asking for your phone number, your age and whether you own or rent your home, keep in mind that failure to respond only hurts yourself and your community.

That’s because whether and how you respond not only will determine how much clout your community and Ohio have in Congress, but also will be used to gauge how much federal money will be spent in your community and this state.

At the same time, failure to send in your form in a timely manner will bring a U.S. Census Bureau worker to your door, at an estimated cost of $57 with each visit.

Extra visits are necessary if you’re not home or don’t answer on the first goaround, racking up the costs to taxpayers.

In contrast, the postagepaid envelope that comes with the census form costs Uncle Sam only 42 cents.

Based on typical expenses for these personal visits in other census years, the bureau has calculated that a perfect response rate from every U.S. household would save the red-ink-drenched federal government $1.5 billion, $85 million for each percentage point increase in mail-in participation.

So, those who spend just a few minutes answering 10 simple questions on the form and mailing it back can show they care about fiscal responsibility.

The 435 seats in the U.S. House are divided among the states based on the population reflected in the head count conducted by the Census Bureau every 10 years, as the U.S. Constitution dictates.

Ohio’s representation in the House has fallen precipitously with each census, as populations soar in the Sun Belt and stagnate in the North.

Ohioans held 24 House seats in the 1960s and this decade have 18, but after this census, the state is expected to lose one member of its delegation and could be the only state to lose two. So counting every Ohioan is vital.

The Census Bureau is prohibited by law from giving the personal information it collects to any other agency.

And anyone who has filed a tax return, visited a doctor’s office or filled out a credit-card application can see easily that the bureau wants to know very little about Americans, compared with the personal information sought by other agencies.

Responding to the census, which is required by law, is one of Americans’ few civic duties, akin to serving on a jury or voting.

Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s pro-census pep rally at the Main Post Office on March 15 aimed to dispel irrational fears of the census.

“The census is also about resources,” he said. “It’s about money coming back to the city of Columbus that otherwise would not come back to the taxpayers and to the residents of our city.”

How much money? An estimated $400 billion in federal funding, about $1,300 per U.S. resident, is divvied up across the nation each year on the basis of demographic information revealed by the census.

Columbus and Ohio cannot afford to have any resident missed in this important count.–Columbus Dispatch

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