No census conspiracy

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I recently had a conversation with a local person regarding the 2010 census forms. The person said he was “disinclined to fill it out” because of the information it asked for and the likelihood of his information being shared in unauthorized ways and unauthorized places. To set the record straight: The 2010 census only asks 10 questions. These include name, sex, date of birth and whether you own or rent. This is the shortest questionnaire since George Washington asked Thomas Jefferson to conduct the very first census in 1790! The 2010 census form does not ask your social security number, your income, any bank information or about your hobbies, interests, religion or occupation. Most of the questions could be answered by your neighbors or close friends.

There are strict laws in place to keep any information you give in our census form confidential. Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information, and violating that law is a crime with severe penalties. Your census information isn’t shared with other federal agencies. By law, the U.S. Census Bureau cannot share respondent’s answers with anyone—not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA and not with any other government agency. You can feel secure in knowing the census form is both brief and entirely confidential.

The very good news is that by filling out and returning your census form, you are affecting how our community receives funding for the next 10 years, from funding for things like senior centers and flu shot distribution and educational needs, to highway planning and construction. It is estimated that for each Montanan that doesn’t get counted our state could lose over $4,000 of funding over the next 10 years.

Filling out your census form is a very easy way to help yourself and your neighbors. For more information on the 2010 census I would encourage you to visit the census website at http://2010census.gov.

Dale Woolhiser

Board Member

Missoula Community Foundation

Missoula

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