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Play hard to get with Census survey, and you might win a gift card

Play hard to get with Census survey, and you might win a gift card

Your tax dollars at work.

Yesterday I posted the response from Matt in Colorado to the American Community Survey being conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Reader James forwards this note and photo:

I read your post about the census surveyers, They’ve been bugging me too. This was on my door a week or so ago.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Sissy, give me a call.

I’d feel like a gigolo, but $80 bucks an hour would buy me.

Does anyone have info on what this survey is about? It could be more fun than annoying the vacuum cleaner salesmen. 🙂

Take the gift card. They won’t stop bothering you until you speak with them, so you might as well pick up some money for it.

The deal with the ACS is that because it is sample-based, the Census needs a response rate of 100%. Needs.

I can’t tell you the exact legal reasons why, but I do know that if you keep refusing them, they can cite you for contempt and then lay on some pretty serious fines.

Something about the Census being an essential function of government because it’s in the Constitution, so they have a legal right to compel you to provide information (other people, feel free to correct me on the rationale for this power that the Census has).

Ironically, with the Decennial census you can refuse to answer – eventually they will give up trying to track you down. But not with the ACS – they are required to have a 100% response rate in order for their statistical work to be valid.

    been refusing it for years.
    been ignoring the notes too.
    its fun since I am here all day and we watch each other through window, they finally get the hint.

    ThomasD in reply to Cassie. | September 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    The Constitution mandates a census. A census is a head count, so all they need is a name and a place of residence, all the rest is not required for a census.

    Sanddog in reply to Cassie. | September 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I’m pretty sure the American Community Survey isn’t mentioned anywhere in the US Constitution. Since the main purpose of the ACS is to redistribute wealth, it’s not a true census for the purposes of the Constitution. It’s an intrusive survey that every American should tear up and toss in the garbage.

Let me know if you want to see the rest of my responses. It’s checked full of little tidbits of fun!

Matt in Colorado.

9thDistrictNeighbor | September 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that the “gift card” is an EBT card and by participating, you end up signed up for food stamps as well. Git yer gubmit benefits!!! (Whoops, just sounded like Jennifer Granholm for a minute….)

Yes, that’ right. Don’t show any integrity or love for veracity, just take the money and bend over.

I find it amazing they consider people can be bought for such a pitiful handful of chump change – but they’re the experts, so they must know.

“Authorized”?!? By whom??? Dammit, that’s our money she’s throwing around.

The census follow-up interviewer came to my door once because I only filled out my name and number in my household. At the time Rush talked about how CNN was running special reports on people having their identities stolen by people posing as census workers, and there was a rash of home invasions here in Florida by thugs using the same tactic. So I told the census worker “I know this is a scam! I saw it on CNN! Don’t ever come back!” and they never did. Pretending to be an idiot CNN audience member is fun. Heh.

Ummm…..where does the money to “pay” for that “debit card” come from in the first place?

If they offer to “pay” people only after they are unable to get in touch with them a time or two, how is that “fair” to the people who answered the survey the first time around?

‘Cuz we all know the government is all about “FAIR”, right?

Here’s a thought. Lie like a rug on their form, accept the “gift” card and then donate it to your local Rep party candidate.

Granted, our money is still being spent but at least it’s in a good cause.

Tell them you’ll do the survey if they promise to vote Republican.

OK, lemme see…. US population roughly 300M…about 1/4 of which are minors… leaving oh 225M adults, who fill out census info for kids, so… if every adult held out for a $40 debit card, that would be… [scritch, scritch, scritch].. [subtract 6, carry the 4…]

OK, if everybody held out for a $40 Debit Card, that would total only $9 billion, not much of a stimulus. What a waste. but think of the par-TAY the GSA could throw with that!

NC Mountain Girl | September 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm

They sure spent a lot of time hassling me during the decennial census.

I talked at length to the pre-census taker. There are a lot of abandoned farms and vacation cabins near me so I explained which places contained residents who needed to be counted, which places belonged to those who should be counted elsewhere and what was abandoned. I shouldn’t have bothered to waste my time because when the census time came workers went to all the vacation homes and dilapidated shacks just to make sure. Given the motley look of some of them I wondered if maybe they weren’t using the census job to case which vacation homes might be worth burglarizing.

I had mailed back my own census questionnaire and was still called on in person three times by three different officious idiots who demanded they inspect my barn, garage, smokehouse and chicken coop to make sure no one else lived on my place. The second time I was less than polite. The third time I let all three dogs out when I came out of the house to tell her to stop the total waste of government money.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | September 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I can’t believe you risked your dogs getting rabies.

      NC Mountain Girl in reply to Henry Hawkins. | September 7, 2012 at 11:29 pm

      They are all vaccinated.

      I think it would be great fun to watch them treat a census taker the way they treat a possum out to raid their food bin. The female Jack Russell may be almost blind but she’s a bred in the bone hunter with a superior nose and hearing. She’ll let out her “I’ve got critter on the run” bark as she jumps off my bed and charges out through her dog door to drag the offending marsupial out from under the bin. When I open the door my Shepkita grabs one end, the full sized Labradoodle the other and the two big boys proceed to play possum tug of war. After a few minutes the Labradoodle then takes the dead possum on a victory lap around my property. Since he began his life as an over sized lapdog in a penthouse apartment in Chicago’s Hyde Park he’s rather proud of his new skill set.

    Suddenly the tune Who Let the Dogs Out? is running through my head… 🙂

The Census Bureau conducts nearly 200 surveys a year, many sponsored by other federal agencies. Some of the these other agencies authorize the gift card for the voluntary surveys — such as the Current Population Survey or the Survey of Income and Program Participation. You don’t get a gift card for questionnaires that are mandatory — such as the census and the American Community Survey.

I’ve been living in the same place for 30 years, head of household, and have never received a census or census visitor.

“Sissy” is a guy, wearing pantyhose and a short skirt. ‘Friends of Barney’ sent he, she, it..

Picture forthcoming..

Well here it is, gosh that was fast. Hey Sissy

I refused to partake in the census. It was too invasive and much was none of their business. They returned many times and I never opened the door. Then I left the state anyway.

So no free debit card for me even if I was tempted to take it.

la lala lala

My folks just moved to a different town, and had a census worker come by their house the other day looking for the previous occupants, then wanted to talk to them.

BannedbytheGuardian | September 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm

By way of comparison , we do a full census every 5 years.

Once I was in a set pool of people who were interviewed monthly for 12 months for research purposes by the Bureau of Stats but other than that I cannot recall ever being questioned.

Your stories have given me an idea for a movie . Deliverance 2 whereby Burt Reynolds is a Census Taker armed with a $40 EBT card . I am just about to visualize the oink oink scene so ….

Maybe Sissy should promise to bring along Buffy, Jodie and Mr French.

Back in 2009 I was being hassled by the Census Bureau (CB) with the ACS (American Community Survey). At that time I found a website ( that had a lot of postings from regular and legal types people. The site was shut down before the 2010 census, although the domain name is still around. I copied a lot of the good advice (about 6 pages) that was posted on the site and have it saved on my computer.

Here is one of the posts:
In a nutshell – the CB, until it files a motion in court, has no authority to compel anyone to fill out the survey. Further, the ACS is a monthly survey not used for congressional apportionment.
This writ spells out the unconstitutional nature of the 2000 Census long form. The same arguments apply to the ACS as well.
Many of the questions on the ACS are a simple and direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.
They are a violation of the search and seizure clause of the Constitution because they attempt to get your financial, health, and other information without a warrant. What’s worse, is that the ACS attempts to get YOU to violate your own constitutional rights.
No one has ever been prosecuted for failing to respond to the ACS. The reason is simple. If anyone was prosecuted, they and all others bothered by the thing would have standing in Federal Court to challenge the constitutionality of the search and seizure of information embodied by the ACS.

I wonder how long before the CB police will be jumping all over legalinsurrection and try to shut it down for the information that people are posting here.

The requirement for the decennial census is in Article I Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution as amended by the Fourteen Amendment. The Constitution requires an “enumeration” to be conducted “in such a manner as they (Congress) shall by Law direct.” Repeating for emphasis — Congress decides what information is to be provided to the Census-takers, not some blog commenter.

The 2010 Census — which asked each American household the same ten questions — could be considered an improvement over the 2000 process where approximately one in six households was asked for a lot more detailed information (the ‘long form’). The Census Bureau is required by law to holds all Census data confidential for 72 years. In April of his year the Bureau released the information collected in the 1940 Census.

Folks, don’t confuse the Census and the American Community Survey. The ACS (which is meant to collect demographic data) is conducted on a continual basis and is mandated by federal law rather than the Constitution.

I received one and I threw it out because no one that I know had received one. Then I got another one, then I got a card that said that I could answer by phone. Called them and asked why did they need so much personal information that really had nothing to do with the census. I was told that she would explain to me why they were needed to know. The only thing she explained was the need to know how much I spend on electricity. According to her it was because they wanted to know what kind of energy was being used in different parts of the country.

After answering ALL of her questions I apologized for not answering the ACS promptly but that she had to understand that I was born in a communist country and all of those questions that had nothing to do with the census reminded me when I was a child and men in militia uniforms with machine guns came into my parents house to take inventory of the house and what we had in the house and that I actually thought the form was some kind of joke since I found it so difficult to believe that the United States would be so intrusive as to ask how many rooms a house had, what is owed for the house, mortgage payments, how much I spend in electricity, etc. I also told her that I remember my parents being told that their house could house five families so I had visions of people knocking at my door to ask to move in because other than that, I did not see what business it was of the government’s to know the size of my home or what I owe on it unless they were planning to pay off my mortgage.

In retrospect, maybe I should have waited for the debit card.