Constable’s Notebook
By Constable Bruce Elfant

“The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of 10 years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.” – Article I, Section 2, U S Constitution

The first enumeration (Census) began on Monday, August 2, 1790, little more than a year after the inauguration of President Washington and shortly before the second session of the first Congress ended. It showed that 3,929,326 people were living in the United States of which 697,681 were slaves. The largest cities were New York City with 33,000 inhabitants and Philadelphia, with 28,000.

The 2000 Census found that since 1790 the United States population has increased 75 fold to more than 281 million people.  The federal government uses Census data to determine congressional district boundaries and allocate more than 400 billion dollars to communities for roads, hospitals, schools, senior centers, emergency services, etc. Census officials estimate that each person counted is worth about $1,300 in federal which means that 769 Travis County counted residents are worth about $1 million in federal dollars.

City and county officials believe that Travis County was undercounted during the last Census in 2000, and as a result, lost out on hundreds of millions of dollars in federal assistance for needed projects and services. This year Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe appointed Judge Eric Sheppard and me to co-chair the Census Complete Count Committee. We plan to engage community, neighborhood and religious organizations, non profit agencies and any entities that work in areas that are historically undercounted.

Making sure you are counted is easy, it’s safe and it’s important.  In mid March the U S Census Bureau will send out a short ten question survey to every address in the nation that should be mailed back by April 1. The Census Bureau is essentially taking a snapshot of where people are on April 1, 2010 so students and others who may not consider themselves permanent residents of Travis County should complete the census form for the address where they reside on April 1.  For addresses where no response has been received, census workers who have been screened will knock on doors in an attempt to ensure that everyone is counted. Census forms are available in 59 languages, large print and Braille. Survey results are strictly confidential and may not be shared with any government agency.

If you do not receive a census form they will be available at any city or county office or by calling 866-872-6868.  More information about the census may be obtained at <www.census.gov>. If you wish to assist the Census Complete Count Committee or have questions please contact me at 854-9100 or bruce.elfant [Email address: bruce.elfant #AT# co.travis.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ].

In Travis County everyone counts and everyone should be counted!