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Low census turnout could cost California

April 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Not many people are turning in their census forms, and that could cost California one or more of its seats in Congress.The census numbers are used to calculate population, which determines the number of seats each state gets in the House of Representatives.

California, along with New York, Texas, Arizona, and Florida, are all in danger of losing congressional seats as a result. All five states were average or below average in mailing back the 10-question census forms compared to other states.

Responses from California, and the other states, are raising red flags because of the states' higher numbers of Latino residents. The Census Bureau has said one of its main concerns is whether tensions over immigration will discourage Latinos from taking part in the census count. Latino residents represent a predominant share of the population growth in California, and as a result, the state could face big losses if there isn't full cooperation when the Census Bureau on Saturday begins knocking on the doors of those who did not respond by mail.

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said he was concerned about Latinos who may refuse to answer their doors, particularly in light of Arizona's tough new immigration law. "I'm incredibly disappointed with the Obama administration in their efforts to promote the census," Vargas said. "It may have the impact of shooting people in the foot if Arizona ends up losing out on a House seat."

More than 600,000 census workers will fan neighborhoods beginning Saturday to ask ten census questions on race, gender, and family relationship.

Associated Press contributed to this story


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