All About the 2010 US Census

By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted on 03/17/2010
In Legal Resources



This week, people across the US have been receiving giant envelopes in the mail. The forms, once they are filled out and returned, will have an impact on everything from federal funding and representation to advertising.

It’s time for the 2010 US census.

People across the country may be tempted to simply discard the US census. But what many don’t know is that doing so could lead to questioning from federal officials and even a fine or jail sentence!

Legal Penalties for Ignoring the 2010 US Census

The census is a really big deal in the US. Originally conceived in 1790 as a way to count residents for the purpose of making sure everyone was properly represented by members of the US House of Representatives, the census outcome now has an effect on hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding, which goes to community projects and programs like schools, health care, roads and daycare centers.

The US census is required under Article I, Section 2 of the US Constitution, and ignoring it may result in penalties. If you are a legal adult — over 18 years old — and refuse to fill out your 2010 US census form, you could be fined $100. If you give false information, you could be fined $500, and if you give suggestions or information “with the intent or purpose of causing an inaccurate enumeration of population to be made,” you could be fined $1,000 or spend up to a year in prison!

The US Census Bureau estimates that two-thirds of US homes will fill out and mail back the 2010 US census. The people least likely to discard the census form are undocumented immigrants (though they are not penalized for admitting their status in the US), young adults, Hispanics, people living in large cities and people displaced by foreclosed homes.

What’s New in the 2010 US Census

This year, the government allotted hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on advertising for the 2010 US census. This resulted in commercials featuring big name stars that aired during events like the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl, as well as a US Census Bureau-sponsored NASCAR race car and a nationwide tour to raise awareness of the 2010 US census.

To make it easy for people to fill out the census form, questions and instructions are now available in six languagesEnglish, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. In addition, there are guides available in many more languages on the 2010 US census website.

In addition, the 2010 US census is one of the shortest ever — only 10 simple questions. The government hopes the brevity of the survey will encourage more people to fill out and return the 2010 US census forms!

2010 US Census Fun Facts

According to a recent article from The Christian Science Monitor, the 2010 US census can be measured up by a lot of numbers — some of them might surprise you!

  • $0.42: The amount it costs the government when you mail back your 2010 US census form.
  • $56: The amount it costs the government to obtain your household’s census information in person.
  • 360 million: The number of 2010 US census questionnaires printed.
  • 11.6 million: The weight of all the paper the 2010 US census questionnaires were printed on.
  • 29 miles: How high the number of 2010 US census questionnaires printed would stand if stacked in a pile — it’s more than five times the size of Mt. Everest!
  • 3: The number of times the amount of 2010 US census questionnaires would circle the globe if they were stretched from end to end.

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