Census Cons Update: Bill Bans Bogus Census Forms

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By Admin on March 15, 2010 3:23 PM

They may not be able to agree on health care, but they all agree on this. Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives, in a 416-0 vote, passed a bill that would ban mailings from other groups designed to look like they are actual census forms sent by the Census Bureau.

As noted in a recent post, ProPublica reported on mailings marked "census" that were actually fund raising circulars from the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. The AP reports that the new bill will require any mailing marked "census" include the sender's name and address, plus a disclaimer that the survey is "not affiliated with the federal government."

ProPublica reports that the misleading mailers were criticized by members of both parties. Politico reports that such mailings from Republicans have been around for several years, the practice is a particularly big problem this year as 2010 is a census year.

"With millions of census forms due to hit mailboxes within days and a multi-million advertising campaign meant to encourage completion and return of those forms, too many nongovernmental organizations are trying to piggyback on that brand awareness," the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y, told the AP.

Studies have shown that public confusion over what documents are and are not legitimately from the census bureau can lead to a lessening of responses to the actual and necessary census forms. According to the AP, this increases costs to the federal government as each household that does not respond to the census mailing must be contacted in person by a census worker.

The bill will go to on the Senate where is expected to also meet with approval.

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