The United States Constitution mandates completion of the Decennial Census, which is administered by the Census Bureau. Earlier this month, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota announced that she plans to refuse completing the Census because she does not condone the Census Bureau partnering with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Representatives Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, and John Mica of Florida encouraged Bachmann to withdraw her boycott. They argued that “boycotting the constitutionally mandated Census is illogical, illegal, and not in the best interest of our country.”
More recently, Bachmann decided that she intends on partially completing the Census, only providing information on the number of people in her household. This week, Bachmann, together with Representative Ted Poe of Texas, proposed legislation regarding the American Community Survey. The legislation hopes to make responding voluntary and to reduce the amount of information collected.
Legislators must not underestimate the importance of information collected by the Census and the American Community Survey. These data assist determining the number of representatives allocated to states and the amount of money distributed to government programs. Additionally, social scientists regularly employ these data in their quantitative research, as evidenced by the Rural Sociological Society’s 2009 Annual Meeting featuring a lengthy presentation on the utilization of rural data provided by the American Community Survey.