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The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be conducted every ten years. That has become years ending in zero so 2010 is time for the count.
It will begin with mailed questionnaires in March, followed by more direct efforts to reach the hard-to-get or difficult-to-convince cases.
Being counted matters. It affects political power and government allocations.
Although the economy has slowed growth in the Sun Belt, lessening the number of House of Representative seat that might shift from the Northeast and Midwest, Missouri remains on the list of states that might lose a seat. If so, it would go from nine members to eight and eleven electoral votes to ten.
Having one less House member and one fewer electoral vote might not seem like much, but it means about ten percent less influence in national policy making. It is a reduced voice in Congress and a lower attraction for presidential candidates.
Population numbers also drive about $400 billion in national government funding. Fewer people means lower allocations. Each resident who exists but who avoids being counted costs the State of Missouri and local jurisdictions over one hundred dollars annually. Not cooperating with the census to show one’s disgust with the government is expensive — over one thousand dollars per person for the entire decade.
The clout you protect and the cash you receive are your own.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Terry Jones is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.