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Why Are Some Tulsans Mailed Census Forms?

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Geraldine and Lincoln Higgins say they're not going to fill out the census form they got in the mail. Geraldine and Lincoln Higgins say they're not going to fill out the census form they got in the mail.
The American Community Survey asks about housing, finances, health and more. The American Community Survey asks about housing, finances, health and more.

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The U.S. Census Bureau is surveying Tulsa neighborhoods to confirm where to send questionnaires for the 2010 census.

But some people are wondering why they're already getting census forms in the mail.

Forms are landing in mailboxes almost a full year before the census officially starts.

Geraldine and Lincoln Higgins are not usually rebellious, but they say they're not going to fill out the census form they got in the mail.

"I don't think the U.S. government needs to know how many people live in this house," Geraldine Higgins said. "I don't think it's anybody's business."

They are not planning to answer the more than 100 questions on the American Community Survey, which asks about their house, finances, what languages they speak and the state of their health.

What made Geraldine Higgins mad was that it said the law required her to answer.

"I'd like for them to come arrest me," she said. "I'm 75 years old. What are they going to do with me?"

The Census Bureau says she isn't going to be arrested but she does have to answer.

Dennis Jordan, Census Bureau Regional Director:  "The 100year census, the 2010 census and the American Community Survey, both have been determined to be so important that Congress has authorized them to be mandatory," said Dennis Jordan, regional director of the Census Bureau. "Each household is required to fill them out."

The survey is not the 2010 census. The American Community Survey goes out continuously and over a decade every home will get one.

The questions provide the government with more timely information than the once-a-decade census that in 2000 asked many of the same questions on a long form.

"We're not doing that anymore," Jordan said. "Everyone in the 2010 census will get a short form, 10 questions, takes about 10 minutes and the information we used to get on the long form will be collected with the American Community Survey."

The neighborhood surveys will continue for another six weeks and the regular census forms will go out in the mail next March.

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