The 2010 Census: Why You Count, Billions Of Dollars Are At Stake For New Jersey

Census Forest avePrepare to be counted: The 2010 Census is ready to roll. You ought to receive an official census questionnaire any day now. Here in New Jersey, billions of dollars in federal aid and a seat in Congress are riding on your full cooperation. But, hey, no pressure. It’s 10 simple questions — one of the shortest census forms ever. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes — maybe 15 if you’re texting a friend at the same time. Fill it out, mail it back and you’re good to go until 2020. If your dog eats the form or if for any other reason you don’t send it back by April 1, a census taker will pay you a visit. They’ll have ID. They don’t need to come in. They’ll ask you the 10 questions right there at the door and then be on their way.

The last census in 2000 counted 281,421,906 people living in the United States. Today, the U.S. population is estimated at more than 308 million, but the U.S. Constitution calls for an exact count every 10 years. Article I, Section 2 requires that a census be taken of every person living in the country so that the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives can be distributed proportionally among the states, based on their populations.

There’s a lot at stake for New Jersey.

Based on 2009 census estimates, there are 8,707,739 people living in the Garden State. If the current estimates for every other state are accurate, that would mean New Jersey would need to come up with another 66,082 residents to avoid losing one of its 13 House seats, according to an analysis by Election Data Services, Inc., a political consulting firm in Manassas, Va.

New Jersey’s population is growing, just not as fast as in other states. Based on the most recent census estimates, eight states are projected to lose one seat, while Ohio could lose two.

“If we’re going to lose a seat, (it’s) going to lead to potential conflict,” said Joseph Marbach, a political science professor at Seton Hall University, South Orange. A bipartisan redistricting commission would have to hash out how to redraw district lines, based on the new census data. Read full article in APP.

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