Why the military counts in the census
NAPLES, Italy — April 1 is National Census Day, when the nation takes a timeout to count its residents.
So what do overseas servicemembers and civilians have to do to be counted among the 300 million Americans? Nothing.
U.S. residents stationed overseas are automatically counted, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Web site: No forms to fill out, no census takers knocking at your door, no wondering what ethnic category you fit into.
The Defense Manpower Data Center provides the Census Bureau the information needed to complete this year’s 10-question form for each overseas resident. That also includes information for National Guard members on active duty deployed overseas when the census is taken.
Those living on stateside military installations, in base housing or barracks are required to fill out census forms. There’s an additional form for sailors assigned to ships based in the U.S.
Everyone living in the U.S. is required by law to be counted, even those in prison.
“This directly affects your representation in Congress, which is the foundation of our democracy,” Derick Moore, a spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said. “Our military is defending democracy, so we want to be sure they’re counted.”
The results usually represent a reshuffle, or reapportionment, of representatives for several states, Moore said. After the 2000 Census, for example, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois lost seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, while California, Texas, Florida and Arizona gained seats. Residents living overseas will be counted in the “home of record” listed in their personnel files, according to an Army news release.
For those living in the U.S., census forms were mailed to households last month, according to the Census Bureau Web site.
Census takers canvas homes between April and July to collect the data from households that did not return forms. By December, the bureau is required to give the information to the president. And by next March, reapportionment data is complete.