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Missouri’s bipartisan congressional delegation urges census participation
Missouri’s bipartisan congressional delegation urges census participation

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 17, 2010) — Every ten years, the U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to perform a census, a nation-wide count of the population. Starting a few months ago, every household in America received a short form of ten questions, some of which have been asked since 1790. So far, about 73 percent of Missouri homes have returned their completed forms to the Census Bureau. While this is a good start, it is especially important for our state to achieve complete participation this year.

Census data is used for a variety of purposes by the federal government. In fact, over $400 billion in federal assistance funds for our state and local governments — used to support our roads, schools, and hospitals — are allocated according to census data. And, the size of each state’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives is determined by these population counts.

While there are currently nine representatives from the Show-Me State in the U.S. House, Missouri could lose a seat if census participation continues to lag. According to some reports, Missouri is projected to retain all nine of its current seats by the slimmest of margins — roughly 9,000 of the state’s 6 million people, or less than 1 percent of the total population. With only an estimated 73 percent of the state’s population accounted for today, losing a Congressional seat to another state is certainly possible.

The effects of losing a seat in Congress would be numerous. Primarily, it would mean that other states, such as Texas or Utah, could gain influence and more forcefully push their state’s agenda in Washington. In addition, it would weaken Missouri’s clout in presidential elections, as the number of our state’s electors in the Electoral College would be reduced from 11 to 10. In essence, Missouri would have a weaker voice at the federal level. That is why Missouri Republicans and Democrats alike are working together to urge full and active participation by our citizens in the 2010 Census. It is critical that every Missourian be counted.

Moving forward, census workers will be placing phone calls and going to the residences of citizens who have not yet returned their forms; please do your best to provide them with any pertinent information. Under Title 13 of the United States Code, all of the information you provide is strictly confidential and the Census Bureau may not sell or give away your address to people who may want to send you mail. However, if you are concerned about the credentials of anyone claiming to be a census worker, you may call (800) 923-8282 or your local census office in Kansas City at (816) 977-2100, Odessa at (816) 565-4031, Columbia at (573) 818-3310), or Springfield at (417) 520-2510).

Losing a seat at the federal table would be bad for all Missourians. Please join me in urging your neighbors and friends to help make sure this does not come to pass.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.

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