Stand up and be counted April 1

A footprint. A snapshot. Power. Money.

That's what officials said is at stake as the U.S. Census Bureau reaches into the furthest pockets of the country to insure that everyone in the country is accounted for on April 1, official count day for the 2010 census.

"I think there are two important factors for those who wonder why they should bother filling out the census form," said Cheryl Bricker, executive director of the Partnership of Community Resources.

"Probably as Nevadans, we're under-represented in Congress. By people filling out their forms, we'll know whether we need a third representative or not. Second is the allocation of funding to states for education and variety of other programs based on the census," she said.

Bricker is a member of the Carson-Douglas Complete Count Committee along with Douglas County Manager T. Michael Brown and Carson City Planning Director Lee Plemel.

The committee first met in January to organize the counties' response to the census.

"Not only is completing the census form we receive in the mail our patriotic duty, but the census is a great opportunity to make sure Nevada and Douglas County get our fair share of federal funding," Brown said.

"At a time when our state and local governments are looking at making reductions to balance our budgets, completing the census brings almost $10,000 per person to our state each decade for things like education and transportation. I encourage every household to do their part and complete their form."

Residents began receiving their forms this week. If you would like to keep the census taker from knocking at your door in the next few months, take 10 minutes or so and fill out the questionnaire and send it back.

The Census Bureau provides a postage-paid return envelope for the bilingual form, telephone numbers for people who have questions, and answers about whom to count.

"In 2000, Douglas County counted 67 percent and Carson City 73 percent for the highest in the state," Bricker said. "We want that to be higher this time."

Bricker said Nevada's high foreclosure rate is one of the challenges faced by census takers.

"Foreclosure is the biggest issue we face in the state as to how to find those people who might be foreclosed on," she said.

"If you're living with someone - it doesn't matter if you have nine people in your house - if they're living with you, April 1 is the official count day," she said.

Census officials have taken into account people who might not be at their residence that day for a variety of reasons from college students, military personnel, hospital patients, nursing home residents, or prison inmates.

The Census Bureau conducts counts in institutions and other locations.

Confidentiality is required by law and workers undergo limited background checks, she said.

"Everyone who handles information is bonded," Bricker said. "Besides testing, they take a legal oath to protect privacy."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, employees are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Protected information includes names, addresses, Social Security numbers and telephone numbers.

Bricker said all census employees carry credentials which must be presented to residents wary of scams or intruders.

"The best way to keep somebody from knocking at your door is to fill it out," she said. "It's so important that Nevada gets its fair share. The money is there to distribute to the states. If people decide not to fill it out, that's more money for our neighboring states."


U.S. 2010 Census


-- The Census Bureau does not conduct the 2010 Census via the Internet or send e-mails about participating in the census;

-- The Census Bureau never asks for your full Social Security number, asks for money or a donation;

-- Sends requests on behalf of a political party

-- Requests PIN codes, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.


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