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Why did some households get more census forms?

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 3:32 p.m. ET
The Federal Eye has heard from several readers and colleagues concerned that they received another census questionnaire in the mail late last week despite already filling one out.

So why did some get a second form while others didn't?

The U.S. Census Bureau mailed second questionnaires to regions of the country that had the lowest 2000 Census response rates. In the Washington area, forms were mailed from April 1 to 3 to portions of Northeast and Southeast Washington, Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland and Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax counties in Virginia. Other parts of those areas with slightly better but still low response rates will receive additional forms starting on April 10, the agency said.

This is the first time the Census Bureau has sent the forms again, after research by the agency and outsiders reported that mailing extra forms to low responding regions might boost response rates seven to 10 percentage points, a spokeswoman said.

Printing the additional forms will cost taxpayers about $42 million, but officials believe they will inevitably save more than $500 million in money not needed to hire temporary census takers.

If you already filled out a form and receive another one, destroy it, the agency said. The Census Bureau said it can avoid processing duplicate forms from the same address by tracking bar codes on each form.

Leave your thoughts -- and other questions -- in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 6, 2010; 1:22 PM ET
Categories:  Census  | Tags:  Commerce Department, Government, Mail, United States Census Bureau, census bureau; 2010 census; u.s. census bureau; us census bureau  
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I'm in Fairfax Co. and filled out my copy when I first received it. Since then I have received 2 more copies, so 3 in total. They should have provided instructions to destroy additional copies once you have filled one out. Someone with less common sense might fill all copies.

Posted by: allisondt | April 6, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I received two, but I can read. This is a non-story.

Posted by: Its_the_Truth_Anyhow | April 6, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Sure there's a story: waste of taxpayer dollars.

Posted by: rtierney1 | April 6, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

rtierney1: Once again, I have to say that I can read and add that I can comprehend what I read -- the story clearly states that the extra mailings create a tax savings of $458 million dollars. Read it again, but this time pull out your highlighter and calculator.

Posted by: Its_the_Truth_Anyhow | April 7, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

What is "$458 million dollars"? I have never heard of a $ dollar before.

Is Obama coming out with $ dollars to replace the $ with a thousand to one exchange rate? They should be called new dollars to be more clear.

Posted by: jiji1 | April 7, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I live in NE and have received 3. I sent the first one back the same day I received it. Since they're all barcoded, Uncle Sam could have scanned in the forms already returned, to avoid subsequent duplicate mailings to the same address... But that would be too efficient.

I'm apalled we're wasting more money to send more forms to addresses where they won't be returned. If those idiots don't realize their public assistance may be in jeopardy, then so be it. But wasting more money to make sure they're counted shows how much of a drag a lot of those areas are on society and our tax coffers.

Just another day in troubled America...

Posted by: connste | April 8, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Their "public assistance" isn't in jeopardy. That's a lie to try to get the underclasses to participate. We make them think they'll get more money, but it's really just for planning.

Posted by: fireball72 | April 8, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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