President Obama Records Message Urging Participation in 2010 Census
WI Staff Writer | 2/24/2010, 10:16 p.m.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Census Bureau relied on electronic statistical machines and punch cards to conduct the national count. Courtesy Photo
Continuing a White House tradition of strong support for the census dating back to 1790, President Barack Obama recorded a public service announcement (PSA) encouraging national participation in the 2010 Census. The 30-second PSA released today by the U.S. Census Bureau asks every household to take 10 minutes to answer the 10 questions on the 2010 Census form and to mail it back.
The PSA and a 20-second version are available now at http://2010census.gov/ and will be distributed to television and radio stations by the National Association of Broadcasters€ Spot Center satellite feed on Friday, Feb. 19. Stations are encouraged to broadcast the PSA through April following their standard procedures appropriate for a national public awareness campaign.
U.S. presidents in office during a decennial census have routinely spoken in support of the census to encourage participation by all residents in the country. President Dwight Eisenhower said of the 1960 Census: €The prompt, complete and accurate answering should be regarded as one of the requirements of good citizenship.€
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush recorded a PSA about the rights and freedoms we enjoy. €One of the ways our Constitution preserves our rights is to require the government to conduct a census every 10 years. It helps determine how you€re represented in Congress and what kinds of government services you find in your community. So be a part of this great democracy. Answer the census. It counts for more than you think.€
In 2000, President Bill Clinton spoke of the vital importance of the census. €Behind all those numbers are real lives and real life stories. And when you put them all together you see the patterns emerge. This is a profoundly important issue if we want to make good decisions about where we€re going. We first have to know exactly who we are.€
In addition to speeches and public service announcements, all presidents serving during decennial censuses -- from President William Howard Taft through President Clinton -- have issued a presidential proclamation on or before Census Day, which has been on April 1 from 1930 to the present.
€Every 10 years, our Constitution requires the federal government to conduct a census. This helps determine your representation in Congress, as well as how federal funds are spent on things like schools and roads, and where businesses decide to put new stores and factories. So when you get your census form in mid-March, take about 10 minutes to answer 10 questions -- remembering to include everyone in your household. Because we can't move forward until you mail it back,€ Obama said.
The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data are used to apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide. The 2010 Census form will be one of the shortest in U.S. history, consisting of 10 questions, taking about 10 minutes to complete. Strict confidentiality laws protect the respondents and the information they provide.