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J. Michael Smith, Esq.
President

Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Chairman

Congress Introduces Legislation
to Make American Community Survey Optional

By Melanie Palazzo
Congressional Action Program Director

March 11, 2011

Sometime over the past decade you may have received an American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. The American Community Survey is currently sent to around 3 million addresses a year. It asks 14 pages of very specific, invasive questions like “how many bedrooms do you have,” “how much is your water bill a month,” “what time did this person [a member of your household] leave home to go to work last week,” among others. Currently, U.S. law requires that you fill this survey out in its entirety or face a fine of up to $5,000.

American citizens saw their first census in 1790. It was six questions long. The authority to conduct this census came straight from Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. American citizens have seen a U.S. Census form come to their door every 10 years since. However, in 1992, Congress decided that the information collected in the census every 10 years wasn’t enough. The American Community Survey was created to be sent to select households every year to provide additional demographics and information to the federal government.

On March 3, 2011, Congressman Ted Poe (TX) introduced H.R. 931 to the House of Representatives. H.R. 931 would allow most of the questions on the American Community Survey to be optional. If H.R. 931 became law, the only questions that would be mandatory would be questions on your name, date of response, contact information, and number of people living at the same address (similar to the information asked on the original census in 1790).

HSLDA has long been concerned about the level of personal information collected and the invasiveness of the American Community Survey. We are grateful to Congressman Poe for introducing H.R. 931 and giving the American people control of what personal information they share with the government.

Action Requested

We encourage you to contact your U.S. representative and share with him or her your thoughts on this bill.

You may reach your U.S. representative by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 866-220-0044. If you do not know your U.S. Representative, please use HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox.

 Other Resources

American Community Survey Background

“HSLDA Examines the American Community Survey”