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Harvard's contribution to America's count will end tomorrow. For first-years, U.S. census forms were due last Friday. But upperclass students still have one more day, and we urge those who have not filled out their forms to do so in the name of civic duty.
Census data, as most students know, are used to allocate seats in Congress and define electoral districts within states. But the census count is also used to determine how the federal government spends more than $185 billion to subsidize, among other things, schools, housing, transportation and safety-net programs. For these reasons, it is imperative that a census count be full and accurate.
Although upperclass students will have only two days to fill out and return their forms, a lack of time should not be an excuse. The short form takes a mere five minutes (or less) to complete and the long form only marginally longer. Furthermore, thanks to massive publicity, tabling and collection effort within Houses, any inconveniences are marginal.
Some politicians have labeled the long form of the census as unnecessarily intrusive, particularly those about income, race and indoor plumbing. These criticisms are nothing short of baseless. Not only are these questions essential for an accurate census count, each form came with numerous disclaimers assuring the confidentiality of census information.
In short, the census form is a five-minute time commitment, distributed only once every 10 years, crucial for the federal government to effectively serve its citizens. Don't be left out of the count.
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