Originally created 04/09/00

Egg on census faces

Census officials who've been haranguing the Central Savannah River Area for having one of the lowest response rates in the nation should be wiping egg off their faces today.

It turns out hundreds of residents throughout our two-state region never even received census forms, either the long or short versions. It ought to be obvious to even the dimmest apparatchik that people can't send back what they haven't received.

The foul-up was due to a flawed distribution system, says Augusta census manager John Harlan. That's putting it mildly. Entire towns were excluded from delivery.

The irony in this tale of census foot-in-mouth disease is negated by the serious fact that Georgia could lose a U.S. House seat as a result. This state is all but certain to get one more seat, but it could miss out on a second seat if population numbers fall short of expectations.

Sadly, that's more likely to happen now. The region's return rate, currently at 51 percent, can't improve much because citizens who were missed in the first mailing won't get another.

Instead, they're being asked to troop to a local census center to pick up the forms. Somehow we don't think too many citizens will do that.

It's distressing enough to fill out a long form sent to your home; we don't suppose many citizens are "patriotic" enough to make the effort to go looking for trouble. Hopefully, house-to-house census counters will catch up to them later.


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