In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) revealed that he refused to answer all the questions on the Census form and sent it back incomplete:
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens), who carries a copy of the Constitution in his pocket, declared how many human beings lived in his household — and then sealed the envelope.
The congressman refused to answer questions about the sex and age of occupants, ancestry, or whether he lives in a rental or owns. “That’s none of their business,” Broun said in a recent phone interview.
“The Constitution requires the federal government to count the number of people in this country every 10 years,” the congressman said. “It doesn’t require them to ask a lot of personal information. People are very concerned about an invasion of privacy, and I have those same concerns.”
What Congressman Broun did is illegal. U.S. law says that people can be fined for refusing to honestly fill out the entire Census:
§ 221. Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers
(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.
(b) Whoever, when answering questions described in subsection (a) of this section, and under the conditions or circumstances described in such subsection, willfully gives any answer that is false, shall be fined not more than $500.
It doesn’t seem that the Census Bureau aggressively enforces these fines. Reps. Michele Bachmann (MN) and Ron Paul (TX) have also said that they would be answering only how many people live in their household. Luckily, it doesn’t seem that many people are taking the conservatives’ advice so far. Census director Robert Groves said that so far, he hasn’t seen any evidence of a large-scale boycott of the Census; just “1 or 2 percent of the 10-question forms returned so far have been incomplete.” (HT: Ben Smith)
Today on his radio show, Glenn Beck also implied that he sent back an incomplete Census form: “I answered the questions I’m bound to answer constitutionally and I sent them in. How many people are living there at your house? I answered it.”
,A Census Bureau spokesman told Greg Sargent that by refusing to completely fill out his form, Broun is actually going to cost taxpayers more money. “The U.S. Census bureau is required by law to send census workers to the doors of those who send in an incomplete form — and those workers have to be paid, the spokesman confirms,” reports Sargent.