More bad news about our census return rates: the state of Texas is second-worst in our rate of response to the mail-in census. Only the home state of Rick Perry's home-girl Sarah Palin is doing worse than Texas. Texans need to do better, in order to make sure we have the resources we need for our state to prosper over the next 10 years and beyond.
Mail in your census forms!
The national average as of yesterday was a 50% response rate by mail. Texas is at 44%, and our urban areas are under-performing the rest of the state. Travis County ranks 31st out of 33 large counties in terms of return rate. We need our urban areas to get counted, and make sure that our population statistics and Congressional districts fully appreciate and include our diverse population.
While the census shouldn't be politicized, it's important to note that the results have real political ramifications for those of us in Texas, as well as nation-wide. These numbers form the basis for Congressional redistricting. An accurate count is a great first step towards preventing efforts like the unconstitutional gerrymander that Republicans Tom DeLay, Tom Craddick and company pushed through in the mid-2000's.
Furthermore, problems with this census are already being linked back to Bush administration mismanagement and failure to prepare for our count. From The New York Times:
In 2006, both the Census Bureau director and deputy director abruptly quit, calling attention to the Bush administration's lack of support for the census. In 2008, equipment failures that were long in the making created 11th-hour delays and cost overruns. In 2009, the late nomination and slow confirmation of a new director left the agency without a leader for much of the crucial year before the count.
As a result, a bill with strong bipartisan support is making its way through both chambers of Congress to give the Census Director more autonomy. This all just ties back to how important an accurate count is for a functioning government on the federal, state, and local level.
An complete count also needs to accurately represent our growing minority population here in Texas. That's why it's great to see the Travis County Democratic Party co-sponsoring tonight's “Count Me Latino” event to encourage census participation among our growing Latino population:
Count Me Latino Census Rally
Tonight! March 31, 2010
101 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, Texas
RSVP on Facebook
It's important to note a key difference here: Democrats want everyone to get counted. Republicans are afraid of the census.
This is bearing out in returns. The Washington Independent ran some numbers, and Republican strongholds are under-performing even worse than the rest of the state:
King County (92.% for McCain) – 14% return rate, down from 48% in 2000.
Roberts County (92.1% for McCain) – 22% return rate, down from 68% in 2000.
Ochiltree County (91.7% for McCain) – 39% return rate, down from 71% in 2000.
Glasscock County (90.1% for McCain) – 30% return rate, down from 49% in 2000.
Oldham County (88.4% for McCain) – 26% return rate, down from 72% in 2000.
No wonder, given how Republicans like Ron Paul and Michelle Bachman have demonized our census and refused to return their forms. It's positively un-American, particularly given how the census is specifically enshrined in the Constitution.
So go find that census form you received in the mail, fill it out, and drop it in the mail tomorrow. April 1st is National Census Day, so do your patriotic duty and mail it in.