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Wisconsin leads nation in returning Census forms

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GINA R. HEINE
April 29, 2010

Wisconsin led the nation in returning census forms, and parts of Rock and Walworth counties even exceeded the state’s 81 percent rate.


Rock County recorded a 78-percent response rate, while Janesville came in at 77 percent. Walworth County’s mail-in rate was 76 percent. Elkhorn spiked to 84 percent, while Fontana dipped to 59 percent.


Orfordville and Milton took top honors in Rock County at 85 percent.


Census Director Robert Groves announced Wednesday the final mail-in rates, showing Wisconsin on top. The national rate was 72 percent.


While Groves called Wisconsin’s display of civic participation “incredible,” the state actually fell 1 percent short of its 2000 response rate.


The 2010 census website includes a map showing response rates down to neighborhoods. Results Wednesday show Janesville’s downtown area along Centerway south to Court Street was the city’s lowest rate at 61 percent.


Neil Deupree, chairman of the Rock County Complete Count Committee, said he put in extra effort in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, which lagged behind other neighborhoods in early April at 48 to 49 percent. He spent a weekend leafleting the neighborhood, which now shows a 65-percent response rate.


“I don’t know how much the leafleting made a difference. I want to believe it did,” he said. “You do what you can do, and you hope it makes a little bit of difference.


“The issue now is helping people to recognize the census workers when they come and how to help them to feel comfortable answering the door.”


Going door-to-door

Census takers will knock on doors beginning Saturday through July 10, visiting households who did not mail back a completed form. Census takers will have a census ID badge that contains a Department of Commerce watermark, and workers might carry a bag with the Census Bureau logo.


If you’re still not certain about the census taker’s identity, you can ask them for their supervisor’s phone number or call the Chicago office at (312) 454-2700.


According to census officials:


Census takers will only ask the questions on the census form and will not ask to enter a home. Takers will visit each address up to three times and might try to call up to three times. If a resident does not answer, the census taker will leave a door hanger with a number the resident can call to schedule an interview.


Census takers went through an FBI background check and have taken an oath for life to protect the information they collect. Violators face fines or imprisonment.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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