Some South Floridians uneasy about census follow-up

American Community Survey sent to about 3.5M households

MIAMI - Every ten years, the federal government sends out a census for all of us to fill out. We all got them in our mailboxes two years ago.

Now -- a follow-up report is showing up in mailboxes across South Florida.

About 3.5 million households have been selected for the American Community Survey. Inside the report is a series of questions that, according to the paperwork, must be answered, and that made some uncomfortable.

"I'm just wondering what are they getting out of threatening us to fill these forms out," said a woman who didn't want to be named. "I kind of thought the questions being asked were a little bit intrusive."

Unlike the one sent out every ten years, this census is done annually.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen recently voted for an amendment saying the survey shouldn't be part of the census and taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill.

"I think $2.5 billion can be put to better use than to find out whether people need help getting dressed in the morning," Ros-Lehtinen told Local 10's Jen Herrera.

Local 10 contacted the Census Bureau, which responded with literature explaining why the American Community Survey is passed out annually, saying it helps "supply the country credible and cost efficient economic and social statistics." Officials said its called "mandatory" so more people respond.

"We all fill it out and then we're thinking, 'Ok, I guess it's mandatory since they're telling me that it is,' but it really is not,'" said Ros-Lehtinen.

One woman said she isn't filling out her form. Time will tell if she will face a fine. Action is rarely taken against violators.

The Census Bureau argues it actually costs more money to chase down citizens who choose not to fill out the forms because multiple notices are sent out, phone calls are made and sometimes people are sent door to door to get answers.

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