By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Congratulations, Keizerites – You exceeded the state and national average for returning the U.S. Census Bureau’s questionnaire.

Or at least 76 percent of you did. That’s the latest number from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Salem office, beating out Marion County (75 percent), the state (74 percent) and the nation (72 percent).

But for those who didn’t return the mailer sent to your home – or if you never got one – a Census representative will soon come knocking, if they haven’t already.

Teri Carroll, manager of the Salem office, said most of those visited weren’t resisting filling out the form, per se.

“Most of the people we’ve visited didn’t realize it was a census form, misplaced it or just didn’t get around to it,” Carroll said.

Canvassers started earlier this month, both visiting households and canvassing neighborhoods to see which addresses may be vacant, or even don’t exist anymore.

And despite technological advances, other than address canvassing the field workers will be using paper forms.

“We had looked at using the handheld computers we used for address canvassing, but the company providing them couldn’t guarantee the level of support we needed,” Carroll said. “… So we made the decision to go with paper, and it’s working very well.”

And unlike in 2000, there is no online census form option.

“They tried that 10 years ago, and it didn’t get a good response,” Carroll said. “I know they’ll consider it in the next census.”

The Salem office covers Marion, Linn, Benton and Clackamas counties. They’re no longer taking applications, noting that “we’ve had very, very qualified people who have applied for census work.”

The legitimate employees will carry a badge identifying them as census workers as well as matching personal identification. The public shouldn’t be afraid to call the census office to confirm their employment, or call police if they don’t have their badge and identification.

“And the census worker will never ask for a Social Security number, account number or anything like that,” Carroll said. “It’s just 10 simple questions.”

A few will also get follow-up visits to ensure quality control, she added.

But it’s a good idea to participate, Carroll stressed.

“It means money to our communities,” Carroll said. “The population is what decides allocation of funds into the government. … A lot of businesses use census data to determine where to place stores and businesses. Participating helps the community.”