2010 U.S. Census Survey Could Paint New Portrait of America

After the Census Bureau has compiled all the information, the final report will be submitted by director Robert Groves to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who will deliver the final census – consisting of the total national and state counts – to President Obama by Dec. 31, 2010.

In March 2011, a full year after census forms are delivered to households nationwide, local counts will be finalized.

But before 2010 has even arrived, the upcoming census has already started to make headlines – and not necessarily for the right reasons.

Law enforcement officials are investigating the September death of a census worker in Kentucky. Bill Sparkman, 51, was found hanging from a tree with the word "fed" written on his chest.

Although the Census Bureau is an apolitical and nonpartisan agency, the census is always a politically charged issue, with controversy swirling from all angles.

Three weeks ago a Republican senator failed in his effort to exclude non-U.S. citizens from the census count that determines how Congressional districts will be apportioned among states.

The proposal from Sen. David Vitter, R-La., would likely have saved Louisiana from the loss of at least one Congressional seat, while at the same time causing other states such as Texas and California to lose a number of seats.

Last month a report from a government watchdog found that a flawed fingerprinting system could have caused the bureau to employ up to 200 workers with criminal records. Four Republican lawmakers, citing the Government Accountability Office report released Oct. 7, then wrote to Groves asking him to assure Americans that no criminals would be knocking on people's doors next year.

But the Census Bureau does use a number of security checks as they go through the process of hiring over one million people. For instance, FBI background checks are conducted on potential employees with offenses involving violence, identity theft, and voter fraud leading to automatic disqualification.

Meanwhile, some Hispanic advocacy groups have called for illegal immigrants to boycott the upcoming census if immigration laws are not changed. Leading the boycott effort is the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, headed by the Rev. Miguel Rivera. The group says it represents 20,000 evangelical churches in 34 states.

The Bureau has also received flak because the embattled community activist group ACORN was one of its many outreach partners. But in all the Bureau has more than 100,000 outreach partners, from Target to the Salvation Army, that help the census by increasing its reach into communities that are traditionally tough to count.

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