With national census day just passing, gathering the forms for the 2010 census is becoming increasingly vital. The government has employed different techniques in comparison to the 2000 census to ensure the highest possible participation percentage. From shorter census forms to an increase in census workers, the 2010 census is promised to be the most accurate.
As of April 7th, the participation percentage for the United States is 62% while DC’s separate participation percentage is 57%, the lowest in the DMV area. However, Ward 3 in Washington, D.C., according to chairwoman Mary Cheh, is working extremely hard to boost the numbers.
Ward 3’s participation percentage is 74% of its population, which is the highest in the DMV area. “We have to expect that from such an area. Ward 3 has been the leading ward in participation for the last two censuses. The community really takes it seriously,” says John Briggs, 33, communication advisor for Chevy Chase Citizens Association.
Ward 3 seems to be on top of things when it comes to census 2010. They are one of the three wards that have implemented a program to inform students in both high schools and universities. “We take surveys at our school to see how many of our houses have completed and sent in the forms. They explained to us how important it is to actually do the form,” says Melissa Gardner, student at Wilson High School. “People are either lazy or don’t know the importance in it.”
According to a release by the Student Alliance, college students make-up one-sixth of the D.C. population; furthermore, students’ participation is crucial. Chairman Ben Marcus, Chairman of the D.C. Metro University Student Alliance says that approximately 370 million in federal funding could reach D.C. if all students participate.
American University has created an incentive for completing the 2010 census form. Although there is always a difficulty collecting forms because of the movement of students through college dorms, American University is informing their students that participation could lead to cheaper Metro fares. This is possible because the DC municipal government receives funding according to the census.
“As soon as students realize that their lives are directly affected by the census count, the more they are inclined to participate,” says American University professor Carolyn Hefner. “We are one of the few universities that spend time discussing the benefits with our students.”
This knowledge outreach to the university is also seen throughout the community of Ward 3. Because of the dramatic increase in census employees, there are consequently more citizens in the know about the importance of gathering the forms and sending them in.
“I quickly jumped on the opportunity to work for the Census Bureau. I just moved to D.C. and needed a paycheck quickly. Of course there’s like a million of us in training,” says Brian Yessiks, 29. “How can there not be 100% participation if the majority of the population is working for the census,” he says laughingly.
Most importantly, how is the increase in census employment affecting community participation? 100 people in Chevy Chase and Foxhall, over the age of 25, were surveyed to get an idea of census control in these areas.
“Because I work on Capitol Hill, my household was accounted for as of April 3rd. To speak on my colleagues, I believe the people in this neighborhood are pretty much in tune with the census,” says Foxhall resident Anthony Green, 42.
Out of the 100 people surveyed, 79 people have completed and mailed the form while 8 people said they have not received it. However, 13 people said they are planning on sending it in. ” I know it sounds horrible, but I really just forget. I doubt there’s a big percentage of people who just say they are not going to do it. Maybe if it was online I would have responded quicker, Marrian Johnson, 28, says jokingly.
Thirty-two year old Christina Gulls says, “It seriously takes like 10 minutes to fill it out and put it back in the mailbox. There really isn’t a reason for not completing something that ultimately benefits you. Most of the people I know have done their part.”