"I don't feel comfortable sharing my information"

July 25, 2019

Dear Reader,

Many of us are very careful with what we do with our private information regarding our DOB, income, household numbers, and the like. Usually, as individuals, we don’t go around asking people that kind of question, so when something like that does happen, I think it could be kind of scary. But, I think we can look at this kind of differently- since it is the government. 

Persons vs government is very different. The government seems to be private, confidential and everything, but as Native and Indigenous people, it is hard to fill out our information to a system that has always been against us.As people in general, it is crazy to put all types of information in one form. We often wonder where our information is going, how it’s being used and the person who is helping us fill out the information. 

All in all, we are all afraid of our information being shared within people or inside the government systems. Census Bureau has a law that all information is confidential and all information cannot be shared outside of the Census. For offices, they have set up noise cancelling rooms, dark (no windows, covered) rooms, and spaces that no one can go into unless they had a badge and everything little that. For the people working under the Census Bureau, they have gone through trainings and know every law that comes with the job. From confidentiality to being respectful of others work, but also know that if anything happens with their clients information, their “freedom” is on the line with a number of years in jail or a fine of $250,000. 

Although I personally cannot promise you that your information is totally fine (because I don’t work for the Census), Census Bureau has set rules and laws in place so that it could go as smoothly as possible. I think they take every precaution they can for themselves and their clients. 

So, you have every right to feel uncomfortable, but you have a civic duty that your state and your community get the funding and the services they need, which Census will somehow help for the next ten years. Whether you get kids of your own, you get grandkids, you’re going to college, trying to buy a home with loans, applying for grants for your organization- that is where you are helping, and that is where you motivation should come from. As human beings, we love to have our privacy. 

All the best, 

Timotheen

History of the Undercount in the Census

On March 1st, 1790, the Census Act passed by President George Washington, Vice President John Adams and Speaker of the House, Fredrick Muhlenberg. The Enumeration began in 1790 counting the 13th original states including districts of Kentucky, Maine, Vermont and Tennessee (SW Territory). The Census was estimated to be finished in nine calendar months and counted “Free white Males of 16 years and older, free white males under 16, free white females, all other free persons and slaves.” Males 16 years and older were counted for industrial and military potential.

The first Census’ data was not accurate enough for the President at the time but the government encouraged the Census to continue anyway. In 1800, they divided the age groups by free white women and men from 10 but under 15, 16 but under 25, 25 and under 45 and 45 years or older. They counted the people of color—Indians, slaves, free blacks—but did not categorize them into age groups.

Throughout the next 10, 20, and 30 years, the data gathered was still not accurate enough, so the questions would change from asking about businesses and industrial activities to just counting the population, and then other years Census-makers would add on more questions. In the 1960s, the first mailed-out census questionnaires to households were delivered. As the years went by, certain groups were still undercounted.

To this day, Hard to Count (HTC) areas are undercounted. From individuals to businesses, all-White to broadly diverse, men as head of household to any gender head of household, English languages to mother-tongue, and more, HTC areas are consistently undercounted, and undercounted populations in those areas are doubly undercounted. The Census has gone through many changes every ten years, getting better but also getting worse. Many areas are still considered Hard to Count areas because of the diverse geographical lands and the diverse groups of people. According to the US Census Bureau, the 2010 Census undercounted HTC areas by 8%, and most of the data the Census bureau releases does not even consider Remote Alaska, because it is so hard to count.

The strategies of population counts are different in each state - and Alaska even more so. The Census 2020 is being done by internet in the other 49 states, and Alaska is using invitation and enumerator strategies because of the lack of internet, mail boxes, and the HTC areas. Alaska has HTC areas because of the amount of untouched geography, sparse villages, and the spring and summer hunting and gathering activities that go on in all regions of Alaska.

If you want to learn more about how to be counted, you can visit alaskacounts.org. And if you want to make sure your community is counted, you can apply for a paid Census enumeration job!

I Guess the Census is Important

I am imagining 40 people in a room and 15 people are asking the same questions. “What is the Census?”. After ignoring a majority of them I decide to finally answer the question. Only because I feel like every single one of them would run a marathon just to find out. 

So, what is the Census? It is a U.S. government law that was passed in 1790. 229 years ago. So when my great great great great great grandparents were alive. But they were not counted because they were in Alaska or Russia. 

Filling out the Census is required by law to be filled out by every household in the U.S. who should always count every living human being living under their roof. Whether it is a newborn baby, your great Grandmother, or your old friend who has been living with you for a year and a half. Where you are, where you live, and who you’re living with are important. Everyone counts and it is the U.S. Census’ goal to count everyone once, only once and in the right place. 

Alaska is going broke. The U.S. is in debt. Who isn’t at this point? Same, Gov, same. Depending on the population of the state, the federal government funds a state a percentage of $675 billion dollars. The percentage of that money goes to projects in social services such as hospitals, road construction, education, housing and more. In 2010, Alaska got a hold of $3.2 billion dollars. That money went into program obligations for Alaska, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Loans, Grants, education funding, housing, youth activities, adoption assistance, WIC, and much more. For more information on where the money goes, here’s the pdf.

“It might give us money, but I didn’t fill it out in 2010”

The money and resources that the rest of the population took in 2010 is used throughout the 10 years until the next Census. So the 2020 funding will be used from 2020-2030

Filling out the Census is important, and I don’t think I, AkPIRG, Census Bureau, CCC’s can stress that enough. 

You, your mother, your father, your friend, whoever is the head of household, MUST fill out the Census 2020. This was information but hopefully it was a little informative and fun to read. Logging out. 

Check out the Alaskacounts.org website and find more information there!