Marching to the mailbox

Published 7:32 pm Friday, April 9, 2010

If you haven’t filled out your Census form, get up from your coffee. Right now. Answer the 10 basic questions. It’ll take no longer than 10 minutes.

After that, march to your mailbox and put the form into the mail.

Today is “March to the Mailbox” nationwide. Here in Selma, volunteers will gather on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to draw attention to the importance of filling out the Census form.

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On April 19, the Census Bureau will begin to compile addresses where nobody has returned a form so Census takers can make personal visits, beginning May 1. That’s why it’s so important for people to return their forms by April 16.

As of April 1, Census Day, Census Bureau Director Robert Groves noted that parts of Alabama still have some of the lowest rates of participation. Birmingham was one of the farthest behind at 35 percent, more than 10 percent below the percent of households nationally that have mailed back their forms.

The Census Bureau reports 52 percent of people in Selma have responded to the form a good response, but not enough.

Here’s another reason to mail in the response. The Census Bureau estimates it costs the government 42 cents to receive back a questionnaire in the mail. But if a Census taker has to go out, it costs taxpayers $57 to collect the same information.

By that reasoning, if every household mailed back a Census form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of the census, saving $1.5 billion.

So, today, march to the mailbox.