On two different occasions I’ve been contacted by people who have received the American Community Survey (formerly known as the long form census). These people felt their privacy was being violated by the intrusive questions in the survey and that the federal government did not have the right to demand such information of them. They were being hounded by census bureau workers, threatened with fines and in one case even had a bureau employee show up at their church to serve them with papers. These people turned to me, as a Constitution Party state chairman, wanting to know if the survey really is mandatory and whether they would indeed be fined for not complying. Knowing that millions of other Americans are being confronted with this same dilemma, I decided to compile my findings as a public resource on the matter.
It all began in 1787 with the drafting of the United States Constitution where Article I, Section 2 calls for an “enumeration” to be made once every ten years for the apportioning of representatives and direct taxes among the several states.
The nation’s first census was conducted in 1790 and consisted of only the name of the head of household and the number of other residents – just what you’d expect for a simple enumeration. However, by as early as 1810 the census had added inquiries regarding U.S. manufacturing capabilities with questions about social matters coming in 1850. In 1940 the dual long form/short form system was put into play with most households receiving the short form census with questions more appropriate to a simple enumeration and a portion of households receiving the long form census seeking detailed demographic information. Continue reading “The Census and The American Community Survey: Do You Really Have to Answer All Those Questions?”