In about a month, the US Census Bureau will be releasing the 2010 Census data to states so that they can begin the process of redistricting for the House of Representatives, as well as state legislatures that use those boundaries for election districts. This process happens every ten years, and is a vital part of the process of governing here in the US. Redistricting is also an incredibly controversial political process, as political parties and other groups at all levels of government have a keen interest in how groups of voters are aggregated into districts. In the past, redistricting has often led to conflicts and lawsuits, as those with the power to make the redistricting maps can translate that power into electoral victories. Many people are at least familiar with the notion of gerrymandering, which is a term that dates back to the early 19th century, and refers to the deliberate drawing of electoral boundaries to try to increase a candidate’s or party’s chances of winning an election. There is even a new documentary film coming out called Gerrymandering, which is an in-depth look at mapping electoral districts and its impact on recent elections.
May 1, 2010 is the day that US Census takers will be fanning out across the country to go door-to-door and try to count households that did not respond via the Census form.
The tiny town of Noorvik, Alaska gets the honor of being the first town visited by Census enumerators, and the Head of the Census Bureau, Dr. Robert Groves, travelled to Noorvik to officially kick off the Census yesterday. Most of us here in the US will get Census forms in the mail in March, with follow-up door-to-door enumerations starting in late Spring.
Here is some video footage of the Census kick-off in Noorvik as part of a local news report in Portland, ME:
Wow, another 10 years gone by, and with the first Monday of the new year upon us, the US Census Bureau has swung into gear to get the 2010 Census rolling. The 2010 Census website is up and running, with all kinds of information on the Census and important dates throughout the year. The Census Bureau is also embracing social media: you can read their 2010 Census blog, follow them on Twitter and check out their YouTube channel. And, starting today, January 4th, the Census Bureau is launching 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour, with 13 Census vehicles visiting stops in the 12 Census regions, and hitting up high-profile events like Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade, the Super Bowl, NASCAR Daytona 500, Denver Powwow, San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade and NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis. It’s all to raise awareness of the Census, and how important it is for your community that everyone gets counted. The actual Census forms will be mailed in March 2010, with a target return date of April 1, 2010, which the Census Bureau has designated National Census Day. After that, census takers will be heading out to communities around the country and going door-to-door to try to count those people who either didn’t receive a form in the mail or did not return it. It is a massive undertaking, and I have actually been able to visit the Geography Division of the Census Bureau several times during the past ten years and see some of the hard work that goes in to getting ready for the Census.
For those of you out there who are not in the United States, or even US residents who are unfamiliar with the Census, the US constitution mandates a census every 10 years, with the results being used to apportion seats in the US Congress’ House of Representatives through redistricting. In addition, Census figures are also used to calculate all kinds of federal aid and numerous other uses, and having accurate demographic information can be crucial to a community’s ability to get funding. So when those Census forms arrive in your mailbox, fill them and send them in!