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Census glitches adding up

March 30, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

No Census form.

No return envelope for the long form.

Warning letters telling you to send in a form you never received.

These are some of the problems residents are encountering with United States Census 2000.

cont. from front page

Those who haven't received a Census form yet will be put on the list of households to receive a personal visit by a Census worker, said Wayne Kline, regional office manager for the Census.

As with any massive mailing, some forms probably got lost in the mail and computer glitches probably are to blame for others not yet reaching their destinations, Kline said.

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Census officials estimate 275 million residents and 120 million households will be counted in this Census, Kline said.

"When you have that many (mailings) there's bound to be some mistakes made. We apologize for that. Anyone who hasn't received a form by now we will visit them," Kline said.

Calvin Mahaney, 71, of the Fairplay area, said he didn't get a Census form and he's anxious to fill one out so he can help his community get federal funding.

Mahaney said he doesn't want his community to be shortchanged in the future because the Census count came up short.

People who live in rural areas may not receive Census forms in the mail, but they probably will be personally delivered to them, Census officials have said.

People who received a long form but no return envelope can chalk that up to mechanical error, said Jim Bradley, director of customer service with the Government Printing Office.

Until Thursday, Bradley said he hadn't heard complaints of envelopes being left out, but it was possible a small batch of forms was delivered without envelopes in an isolated area.

"Machines make errors," Bradley said.

St. James Village North resident Donna Mason said she completed the 39-page long form, but her husband didn't think the couple should have to pay the postage to mail it back when the government failed to include an envelope.

"We do have it filled out and it's sitting here waiting for someone to pick it up," Mason said.

To get an envelope, call 1-800-471-9424. An automated system will answer, but a live person can be reached, Kline said.

If residents are willing to pay postage, they can mail the long form to: Census 2000, National Processing Center, P.O. Box 5600, Jeffersonville, IN, 47199-2222.

Short forms can be mailed to: Census 2000, National Processing Center, P.O. Box 5500, Jeffersonville, IN, 47199-1111.

Kline said he's gotten a lot of complaints about the long form.

People want to know why they have to tell the federal government how many bathrooms they have and what their income is, Kline said.

Some people complained the government already knows too much about its citizens, he said.

"All this information is vital for us," Kline said.

Census data will help determine grant and loan funding for communities, what type of sewer system the community needs and where the poverty areas are, he said.

The specific information in individual Census forms will not be released for 72 years, Kline said.

While Census forms inquire about the number of people living in a household on April 1, Kline said he encourages people not to wait until April 1 to mail in their forms.

"If they wait until April1, we're going to be bombarded with mailings of forms. Go ahead and mail them in," Kline said.

Census officials will start going door-to-door during the third week of April to follow up with people who didn't return their Census forms, Kline said.

That means people who applied for Census jobs could hear their phones ring soon as training sessions are set up.

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