Democrats, Advocates Condemn Republican 'Census' Mailer

Feb 28, 2020
Originally published on February 27, 2020 1:19 pm

Illinois residents have been receiving mailers saying they’re a “2020 Congressional District Census.” But it’s not that census – the once-in-a-decade population count.

The mailer is a survey and fundraising document from the Republican National Committee, and that has the Democratic Party of Illinois crying foul.

The letter asks questions about immigration, health care and other issues, and ends with a request for money.

State Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill, recently proposed legislation that would make it a crime to send mailers impersonating census forms.

He says he’s heard from senior citizens who are confused about whether the letters are official census questionnaires.

“Go do your politics and leave the census out of it and stop confusing people,” Manar said.

Asked about the mailers, the Republican National Committee declined to comment on the record.

Manar acknowledged the legislation may not become law in time to address concerns about this year’s census count, but says it’s still worth trying.

Anita Banerji, with the civic engagement nonprofit Forefront Illinois, says she’s frustrated the count is being politicized.

“We really need our census count to be accurate,” Banerji said. “We asked for folks to be vigilant to make sure that they go to trusted messengers and resources, and there are so many of them right now to ensure that they have the necessary information.”

Banerji said authentic census documents will arrive in the mail between March 12 and 20. They’ll invite people to respond to the census online, and will be addressed from the U.S. Census Bureau or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Advocates warn that real census forms will not ask for social security numbers, bank information, or money.

The legislation is Senate Bill 3738.

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