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Whidbey residents receive second, identical census form

 Dennis Jokinen peruses the second census form he received Thursday, identical to the one he filled out and sent back last month. Many Island County residents are receiving a second form in an effort to increase participation in the census count.  - Jim Larsen / Whidbey News-Times
Dennis Jokinen peruses the second census form he received Thursday, identical to the one he filled out and sent back last month. Many Island County residents are receiving a second form in an effort to increase participation in the census count.
— image credit: Jim Larsen / Whidbey News-Times

Many Island County residents who dutifully filled out their census forms in mid-March and mailed them back are getting a second one nonetheless.

The second form is exactly the same as the first, which is causing some consternation on Whidbey Island.

Oak Harbor resident Dennis Jokinen received his second form Thursday, even though he clearly remembers mailing back the first form the day after he received it two weeks ago.

"It just ticks me off," Jokinen said. "I sent it in the day after it came out, and I know I'm not the only one."

The Jerome Street resident watches his neighbor's house, and found a second census form there, too. Jokinen complained of the expense to the government of sending a second form.

Island County isn't alone in receiving duplicate census forms, said Leland Dart, census office manager in the Everett office which oversees the national head count in this area.

"That's going to happen a lot," Dart said. "We're sending a second form to 40 million in early April."

The second form is going to areas that had a low response rate in the 2000 census, in order to increase participation in 2010. Island County had a weak response rate of 59 percent in 2000, which resulted in it being short-changed when federal dollars were passed around.

Told about Jokinen's situation, Dart said, "He doesn't have to do a thing with it." People who already sent in their 2010 census should simply ignore and recycle the second census if it's identical to the first, he said.

Dart is aware that many citizens consider the second form a waste of taxpayer money at 42 cents apiece at the bulk mailing rate. But he describes is as a direct-mail technique that has proven to be effective.

"We're actually saving money," Dart said. That's because if people lose their first census, mistakenly throw it away or just forget about it, the Census Bureau has to send someone to knock on their door. That works out to $54 per person, compared to 42 cents by mail, Dart said.

People who don't want to risk a knock on their door should return their census form no later than April 30, advised Dart.

Jokinen understood the explanation about the second census mailing, but still wasn't satisfied. "In the computer age they should be able to tell who responded," he said.

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