Last updated: October 20, 2009 - 8:55am
[Commentary] With the start of the 2010 census just a few months away, Senator David Vitter, a Republican of Louisiana, wants to cut off financing for the count unless the survey includes a question asking if the respondent is a United States citizen. Aides say he plans to submit an amendment to the census appropriation bill soon. As required by law, the Census Bureau gave Congress the exact wording of the survey's 10 questions in early April 2008 — more than 18 months ago. Changing it now to meet Vitter's demand would delay the count, could skew the results and would certainly make it even harder to persuade minorities to participate. It would also be hugely expensive. The Commerce Department says that redoing the survey would cost hundreds of millions of dollars: to rewrite and reprint hundreds of millions of census forms, to revise instructional and promotional material and to reprogram software and scanners. Changing the survey now would be a disaster for the census and for American taxpayers. The Senate should defeat any and all attempts to alter or delay the 2010 count.
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