Local census effort in full swing

Published 9:57 am Friday, March 26, 2010

Efforts to promote the 2010 census is winding to a relatively quiet close, but the counting process is far from over.

With Census Day less than a week away, area officials are making one last push to promote the 2010 census.

“It’s a very important part of our democratic process,” said Candace Gordon, local census office manager in Rochester.

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Census forms were mailed out to all residences this month. The material should be filled out and mailed back to the U.S. Census Bureau by Census Day April 1, but Gordon said census officials will be accepting forms into early to mid-April.

Gordon said the 2010 census is important because it affects the proportion of congressional seats. Minnesota is at risk of losing one of its eight congressional seats. Gordon also said the census is important because it affects the amount of money communities receive for roads, schools and medical facilities.

The 2010 census aims to count all residents in Minnesota and the U.S., even illegal immigrants.

Mayor Tom Stiehm said much of the work of Austin’s Complete Count Committee, a group aimed to promote involvement of all Austin residents, is coming to a close. However, many area groups are still helping people fill out census material and attending local events to promote turning in the census.

Dora Martinez, a care advocate and program coordinator at Austin’s Welcome Center Inc., said volunteers braved rainy weather a few weekends ago going door to door to almost 100 residences around Austin promoting participation in the census.

“We want everybody to be counted,” she said.

Volunteers and Census Bureau workers have also promoted participation at public events and at meetings based on the census.

The Welcome Center, along with the Senior Center and other area groups, are offering help for people to fill out census data. Along with the Welcome Center, people can also receive help at places like Austin Public Library, Queen of Angels Church, Austin Packaging and Quality Pork Processors Inc.

However, Martinez and Jim Burroughs, a representative for the Senior Center on the Complete Count Committee said people have sought help on the census, but numbers haven’t been overwhelming. Burroughs said that’s partially because the census documents are simple and straight forward.

“It’s just a matter of getting the word out,” he said.

Census workers have been at the Senior Center, and other area locations, to help people fill out documents. Nancy Donahue, Chore Program coordinator at the Senior Center, said only a few people have needed help filling out census documents.

After citizens turn in their census surveys, workers will go to all the houses that did not return census information in late April or early May. Gordon said the length of that process will depend on how many people don’t turn in their census survey. She said Minnesota has a high rate of citizens who participate in the census.

2010 Census dates:

March-April: Census questionnaires mailed out, available at select locations.

April 1: Census Day

May-July: Census workers visit households that did not submit a questionnaire.

Dec. 31: Census Bureau delivers population counts to the president

Census Bureau completes delivery of redistricting information to states.