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Census Day: Obama Fills Out Form as White House Asks, "Did You?"

White House

In honor of today's "National Census Day" -- ostensibly a deadline for Americans to get their census forms in the mail, but really simply a carefully-orchestrated push for more participation -- the White House this morning released a photograph of President Obama filling out his census form. (Check it out at left.)

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton sent a tweet out this morning linking to the photo with this line: "It's Census Day - potus filled out his census form, did you?"

The White House also sent out a presidential proclamation from the president urging Americans to fill out and return the form.

"By completing this year's survey, we can ensure [communities] receive adequate funding for schools, hospitals, senior centers, and other public works projects," he wrote. "The 2010 Census will also aid employers in selecting locations for new factories and businesses as our economy recovers."

The president gave a little history: The first census in 1790, he wrote, counted a country that had less than four million people. He also hit a theme that advocates for communities many believe to be underrepresented in the Constitutionally-mandated count have been trying to stress, pointing out that "in the past, the census has too often undercounted minorities, young people, and low-income residents."

"The 2010 Census is safe and easy to complete, and the Census Bureau aggressively protects all census participants' private information, which is never used against them or shared with other government or private entities," wrote Mr. Obama. "By mailing the Census form back, we help save taxpayer dollars and ensure that all Americans get the support they deserve and a voice in our democracy."

If Americans do not return the census form, they will get a replacement sent to them; if they don't fill out that one, a census taker will likely come to their door in the coming months. (Here's a handy guide to census-related questions.)

In a blog post on the White House site, Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, noted that President Obama lives in a not-entirely traditional household.

One aspect of the first family's "lives that is quite common also happens to be something that often causes confusion when people fill out the census form," he wrote. "The First Ladys mother lives with the family in the White House. Since the census asks for a count of everyone currently living in the household - not just immediate family - the President included his mother-in-law on his census form."

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