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Every ten years, the federal government conducts a census to take note of how many people, and what types of people, call the United States “home.” On Wednesday, the US Census Bureau kicked off the 2010 Census in Springfield. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.
Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution says that the representation of the states in Congress shall be determined according to their respective numbers…in other words, how many people each state has living in it.
That’s where the Census comes in. The mandate for conducting a census every ten years is actually in the Constitution.
At the launch of the 2010 Census in Springfield Wednesday, Congressman Roy Blunt said he knows Ozarks residents aren’t too fond of having the government gather information on them. But, he says, taking stock of how many people live in each area is one of the oldest obligations of the federal government.
“It was talked about in Philadelphia that there had to be some way, to fairly, at that time, apportion representation,” Blunt said.
The Republican Congressman from southwest Missouri said this year’s census may hold particular significance for the Show-Me state.
“This census very well will decide whether we continue to have nine members of Congress, or have eight members of Congress. We’re really right on the edge of those states that will either keep the seats we have, or lose that seat to somebody else,” he said.
And if the latter happens, then Missouri would only have 10 electoral votes in the presidential election—8 from the House and 2 from the Senate—as opposed to its current total of 11.
The US Census Bureau’s regional director, Dennis Johnson, said the information collected in the census is also used in research, and to determine how much money an area gets in federal grants.
“It’s important for all of us, first of all. It’s important for our families. It’s important for our communities. If you look at your roads, your protective services, your fire, your police, if you look at your health facilities…all of that will be determined by what we determine on the 2010 Census,” he said.
Johnson said the 2010 Census form is shorter than before, consisting of ten questions. They include asking the person’s age, race, and whether they rent or own a home.
Postal workers will deliver the first mailing of the census form in mid-March. Those who mail it back promptly are then finished with the process. Those who don’t can expect a phone call or a visit from the Census Bureau.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.