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CENSUS LIMITS ... I need some help

Original post made by MIGUEL, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on May 16, 2010

Recently I wrote a post on door solicitors and received many wonderful suggestions (ask for a license for example) ... This Saturday a census taker came to the door ... no problem ... we have 3 people in the house. Ethnic ... well okay if you must know ... names, phone numbers, etc ... NOPE! Something inside of me sensed it was an intrusion. Now, I'm not paranoid ... and I'm not trying to pose a political position. What I would like to know is: what is the LEGAL obligation on my part to give information? I don't want to end up in jail on a federal felony wrap (okay I'm trying to be funny) ... but where IS the limit? I know some of you out there know. Thanks in advance.

Comments (11)

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Posted by Simple
a resident of Amador Estates
on May 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm

The questions are simple. I don't remember personal stuff like phone number. If you are in the country legally why do you care?

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Posted by cholo
a resident of Livermore
on May 16, 2010 at 12:42 pm

no campreda, me so afray, i know not what to say

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Posted by Rae
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I'm going to take your words at face value and provide information on the Census and its history as if you really don't have a political axe to grind.

The Constitution addresses the Census and its timing. Article 1, Section 2, of the Constitution states: "(Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.) The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." Congress first met in 1789, and the first national Census was held in 1790. Web Link

The 14th Amendment, ratified July 9, 1868, corrected the fractionalization of non-white persons counted in the Census. "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed." As noted in the above paragraph (sentence in parenthesis) the census originally counted "other persons" (slaves) as three-fifths persons for the purposes of apportionment. Web Link

Remember that phrase above in Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution that the Census will be made "in such Manner as they shall by Law direct"? Today the controlling law for the U.S. Census is Title 13, Chapter 5, Subchapter II, Section 141, of the U.S. Code. Web Link

Refusal or neglect to answer questions and false answers is covered in Title 13, Chapter 7, Subchapter II, Section 221 of he U.S.Code. it states: "(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100." and "(b) Whoever, when answering questions described in subsection (a) of this section, and under the conditions or circumstances described in such subsection, willfully gives any answer that is false, shall be fined not more than $500." Web Link

This is the shortest Census in history. There are only 10 questions. The Census website explains why each question is asked. Web Link Note that according to this information, 3 of the questions have been asked since 1790, one since 1800 and one since 1890. I can add that for question 5, the name of the "Head of Household" was recorded from 1790-1840; beginning with the 1850 Census and since, all names in the household have been recorded.

I don't consider the Census questions particularly intrusive. A loan application, for example, is certainly much more personal than the 2010 Census form. In the end, however, you are responsible for your actions, so it's up to you whether or not you choose to answer. I hope this info has helped you make up your mind.

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Posted by very simple
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2010 at 2:56 pm

You had at least two other options but due to your own choices you put yourself in that position.

You could have: 1) responded to the written mailer that came to your house, which would have avoided a physical visit or 2) not answered the door.

Quite simple actually, and nothing to get all worked up about. The best way of course would be to do #1 and fill it out accurately so our area gets the funding we deserve, and we don't have to pay so many census people to track down those who try to duck the system.

I bet if the census bureau sent checks in the mail people would open it up and wouldn't misplace it or forget about it. (not a suggestion by the way).

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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on May 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Above post is not mine.



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Posted by Rat Turd
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Per the constitution you are only required to answer how many people live in your dwelling. If you did nothing at all the most they could do if they pursued it is fine you $100.00 and it never happens.

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Posted by Miguel
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Again ... thanks to everyone (for taking me at face value - it WAS a serious question) ... for some reason the mailer must have been misplaced ... but with this information I can move forward and make decisions ... INCIDENTALLY ... I find this forum extremely helpful on these types of questions. Again, thank you for taking the time.

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Posted by Rae
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

There was a lot of discussion around the 2010 Census earlier in the year, accompanied by a lot of anger and angst coming from right wing posters on why the 2010 Census questions shouldn't be answered . . . everything, as usual, from the Constitution, to it being a socialist/marxist/communist/etc. plot, to a poster promising "prayer for those blinded by liberalism" if they chose to complete the Census.

"If you are in the country legally why do you care?" was asked above by poster "Simple" (BTW, thank you!). That question is reminiscent of recent nationwide discussions, as well as those on this forum, about Arizona's new immigration law, SB1070.

The right seems to be, for the most part, in favor of police being able to ask anyone who appears to them to be illegal to provide identification proving they are in the USA legally. Statements similar the one above have been used as justification for AZ police to ask for identification papers.

So, food for thought . . .

If it’s not an intrusion or a Constitutional issue to expect every “legal” citizen or resident of this country to have full and appropriate documentation on their person at all times when in AZ, why is the decennial 2010 Census, with its ten questions that would also undoubtedly be covered in an AZ immigration stop, considered intrusive or a Constitutional issue?

So I ask, as did "Simple", “If you are in the country legally why do you care?" Why shouldn’t you answer the 2010 Census questions? Both an immigration stop and the Census generate a record of "legal" residency. Although the information is used differently, the data obtained from both is very similar. Both are, or will/should be, conducted, as the Constitution states, "in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."

Hey, what’s good for the citizens of AZ . . .

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Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on May 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

SteveP is a registered user.

When asked about your ethnicity, answer 'American'; unless you're cholo.

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Posted by Miguel
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Incidentally ... I AM a very legal resident of the USA ... typical middle class Pleasantonian with 2.5 kids, married 27 years (to the same wife), lived in California my whole life, own and run a good family business, love America (even when it goes through some growing pains) ... and Ouch! I'm glad I'm not Cholo ... I don't know if I could stand the heat ... anyway ... thanks again.

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Posted by american
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 18, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I believe that on the census form I was asked for your phone number in case they need to contact you with questions but it was voluntary - not required...I left it I need more solicitors calling my home!

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