Texas Second-Worst In Census Returns

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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

6:00-8:00 p.m.

Casa Chapala

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.  

About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She has previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Austin. In addition to serving as the president of Austin Young Democrats, she is also UCONN's #1 fan in Texas.

7 Comments

  1. I think we need to start a reverse-psychology rumor
    That the previous rumor (don't fill in the census because then the UN can come round you up) is really a liberal rumor to stop the red states from getting their fair share of tax benefits.

  2. Austin is only at 39%
    That's horrible.  We can do much, much better than that.

    So Perry is doing an especially poor job of making sure Texas gets its fair share of government funding. Where is the hype from the Governor's office?

    No doubt some of the crazy right wing talk radio and tea party types are impacting the count in some areas too.

    We need more coordinated efforts and outreach in the Rio Grande Valley and border areas.

    • Yes, where is the hype
      from the governor's office?? Just thinking that it works out better for him and his party if he doesn't “hype” it.  

      Pretty sure that he doesn't much care how the rest of the country views us.

  3. Immediate Rush
    The “immediate rush” is that unless people feel an urgency they may end up being uncounted. It's up to all of us to be proactive about this. Have you sent yours in, yet?

  4. Weak
    Honestly, the vast majority of people manage to pay their bills on time every month, and when they don't, usually it's because they don't have the money. Taking three minutes to fill out a form that doesn't require any payment or documentation shouldn't take months.

    People are moving every day, so letting it drag on for months would increase the complications of compiling the data – one house could have the old and new tenants listed, or neither. Somebody doesn't return the form, and then moves into a house where the previous tenant did return the form – the census has no way to track that person down.

  5. Even accepting your premise as true,
    That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be pushing it hard anyway.  Imagine how good people would be about paying their bills or registering to vote if no one reminded or bugged them, assuming that, hey, they'll get around to it.  Panic and vigilance aren't the same thing.

    And the Census has been due over the course of a few months like taxes.  The forms went out earlier this year, and people had until April 1 to return it, just like how you can file taxes until April 15 (or other dates if you're a corporation or non-profit).

    Plus the sooner people get it in, the less money the government has to spend on follow-up.  Right, left, center – we can all get behind that.

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