• 57°

Preparations begin for 2010 census

The drive to conduct the 2010 Census in Marengo County is off to a good start following the first meeting of the Complete County Committee at the Marengo County Courthouse on Thursday.

William Scott of the U.S. Census Bureau and his assistant, Virginia Johnson, spoke to a group of people about the need to organize several subcommittees in order to get the word out and inform people about the upcoming census.

“Some $400 billion per year will be allocated to state, local and tribal governments using census data,” Scott said.

Scott — who oversees the census in several Black Belt counties — said that in the last census taken in the year 2000, only 55 percent of the households in Marengo County and 61 percent statewide took part, citing the complex form used in the census.

The form for the 2010 census contains only seven questions to answer for each member of a household, including gender, age, race and if that household member sometimes lives elsewhere.

“We get a better response when a household fills out the form and returns it themselves than us paying somebody to go door-to-door,” Scott said. “We get better results. Mailed responses directly affects data quality.”

The meeting helped to organize subcommittees that will help inform county residents about the census, including business, media, education, community-based organizations, faith-based and government subcommittees. Some of those present at the meeting volunteered to chair some of those subcommittees.

Census workers will soon begin getting the word out about the census through promotional campaigns. In early 2010, there will be a “Countdown to Census Day,” which is April 1, 2010.

Census questionnaires will be mailed to households. Over a period of time, if a questionnaire is not returned by a household, a census worker will come to households to help fill out a questionnaire.

Scott said that the information provided in the census will remain private.

“By law, the Census Bureau does not share information with anyone,” he said, “not even with other federal or law enforcement agencies. We’re not going to let them know how many people are in your house. We just want the count. We don’t care if there are undocumented people or if they committed a crime. We just want to make sure they are counted.”

For more information about the 2010 census, contact William Scott at (334) 819-0342 or (334) 320-5438 or e-mail him at william.c.scott@census.gov. More information about the census can be found at the Web site www.census.gov.