SPRINGFIELD – April 20, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today encouraged individuals who haven’t responded to their 2010 U.S. Census questionnaire to get counted. As of April 15, 73 percent of Illinoisans had mailed in their response cards for the Census. Friday was the last day Illinois residents could mail in census forms, but Governor Quinn encouraged those who hadn't yet responded to welcome the census workers who will soon be knocking on their doors.
"During an economic downturn, it’s more important than ever that we take advantage of federal dollars available for schools, public works projects and other critical needs,” said Governor Quinn. “Being counted by your neighborhood census worker is one way to do your part to make sure Illinois is not left behind."
Illinois is currently tied for the sixth highest response rate across nation. Four Illinois municipalities (over 50,000) are among the top 50 cities in the nation for response rates: Orland Park, Wheaton, Arlington Heights and Tinley Park.
Governor Quinn stressed that providing family data for the census is safe, secure and confidential. Every Census Bureau employee must pass a background check before being hired and must swear under oath to protect the confidentiality of census responses. Any employee who reveals personal census information is subject to severe penalties, including a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment of up to five years, or both. Finally, individual census data can't be released publicly until after 72 years.
If a resident isn't home when a census worker knocks on their door, they will find a door hanger featuring a phone number, which they can call to schedule a visit and be counted.
Governor Quinn noted that Illinois is currently at the same response percentage as the state achieved overall in the 2000 census. Both in 2000 and 1990, Illinois lost a congressional seat because the census showed a smaller population.
The Governor was joined at today's Census Rally in the State Capitol rotunda by Frank Smith, Earnfare Director for East St. Louis Township; Sandy Smith, Director of the Office of Community Relations, City of Springfield; Danny Stover, Marion County CCC Chair; and Mary H. Schaafsma, True Census Count Project Manager for the League of Women Voters of Illinois.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A CENSUS TAKER
- They must present an ID Badge which contains: U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.
- They will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the regional office phone number for verification, if asked.
- They will provide you with a letter from the director of the Census Bureau on U.S. Census Bureau letterhead.
- They may be carrying a laptop and/or bag with a Census Bureau logo.
ENSURING YOUR CONFIDENTIALITY
- By law, no other government agency, law enforcement agency, national security agency, court, or anyone else can access your responses -- not anyone for any reason.
- No law overrides the confidentiality law that protects personal information collected by the Census Bureau, or can force the Census Bureau to share census responses.
- Only after 72 years have passed, individual records of a census can be released. (This figure was chosen based on the average lifetime of Americans some years ago.) So, in 2082, if current laws continue, the individual records of the 2010 census will be released for genealogical research. This has happened for several decades now. The 1930 census is the latest census to be so released
- This year’s 10 question form only asks how many people live at the address, whether the home is rented or owned and whether it has a mortgage, and the telephone number of the residence. It asks seven additional questions about each individual at the address, including name, sex, age and date of birth, race and whether the person is of Hispanic origin or not, and whether that person sometimes lives or stays at another address.