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Census Bureau Takes Its Show on the Road

January 11, 2010

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan residents are being asked to stand up and be counted, as part of the 2010 census. The U.S. Census Bureau's "2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour" regional vehicle, named "Statistics," is traveling the state to acquaint people with the new census forms before they show up in Michigan mailboxes in March. The traveling interactive exhibit, which is based in Detroit, will visit local festivals and sports events, and it will also show up in areas where the census response has been low in the past.

Tour producer Lee Gash-Maxey says the idea is to show people the reasons for each of the 10 questions on the form.

"They'll see each question in a big, life-sized panel. It's very colorful, it's very easy to follow. And they can walk through and just get a feel for what they're going to be asked when their questionnaire arrives in the mail."

She says that for the last census in 2000, 65 percent of people mailed in their forms, but the rest had to be contacted in person by Census Bureau workers. The mail-in forms save the government money, so this year's goal is to prompt at least 70 percent of Americans to send them in.

She says the exhibit is designed to explain the reasons why getting an accurate census count is critical.

"Everything that happens in your local communities, in terms of funding, in terms of schools ... Government representation at the national level, how many representatives each state gets, is determined by that information on the Census form."

At the exhibit, people can record their pictures and reasons they'll be filling out their census forms; those documents will be shared on a national Web page and on social networking sites.

"Statistics," will also make stops in Newark and Delaware this week before eventually bringing the tour back to Michigan.

Census information and Road Tour itineraries are at www.2010census.gov

Amy Miller/Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MI