The 2010 Census is fast approaching, and participation could be the difference for federal funding, school districts, and the number of votes Louisiana has in the United States House of Representatives.

The 2010 Census is fast approaching, and participation could be the difference for federal funding, school districts, and the number of votes Louisiana has in the United States House of Representatives.

Dieter K. Krause, United States Census Bureau Senior partnership specialist for the Louisiana and Mississippi region, and Danielle Edwards, local partnership specialist for Southwest Louisiana, were presenters at the League of Women Voters forum on the 2010 Census Wednesday evening.

Both stressed that the constitutionally mandated accounting -- set to begin in April -- is one of the most important events of the year, with ramifications that will last for the next 10 years.

"The results of this count will be the foundation for funding, redistricting of both federal and state governmental areas and school districts, among others; it is an important factor in measuring how well a state is doing," Krause said.

He highlighted the differences that the state has gone through since the last Census in 2000.

"In the last 10 years, everything has changed. We had two major hurricanes, which had a devastating effect on property, industry, production facilities and population," he said.

"You're still looking to get your population back," added Krause.

An accurate count will be one of the determining factors in whether Louisiana will lose one of their seats in the House of Representatives. Louisiana has lost representation in the last two Censuses, 1990 and 2000.

Edwards dispelled many myths that surround the Census efforts in 2010, including the dreaded "long form" that one of every six households dealt with in 2000.

"Now everyone will get the same 10-item questionnaire in the mail around April 1," she said.

"The questions are not intrusive," Krause added. "You give more information out when you go to the grocery store and get one of those discount cards." 

Both Krause and Edwards emphasized the stringent security measures taken to make sure that no one will be able to access personal information.

"Not even the Patriot Act gives people the power to look into this information," Krause said.

"The president of the United States would be turned down," he added.

Southwest Daily News