Census Bureau to update facts on voting patterns

Census Bureau to update facts on voting patterns About two-in-five U.S. residents age 18 and over voted in the last "off-year" congressional election in 1998. Did the rate increase, decrease or stay the same in the elections held on Nov. 5, 2002?

The Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey (CPS), which began in 1942 and is the largest and longest-running household survey in the country, will yield an answer to this and many other questions about the country's 2002 voting habits when results are analyzed next year.

"The survey is collecting information on rates of voting and registration by a variety of characteristics, such as race, Hispanic origin and age," said Susan A. Lavin, director of the Census Bureau's Denver regional office. "The Census Bureau collects these data in the CPS every other November."

Census bureau field representatives also ask every month about the characteristics of the country's labor force. Data are collected on employment, unemployment, hours of work, earnings, age, sex, race, marital status, educational attainment, occupation and industry. From these data comes the monthly unemployment rate, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is scheduled to release on Dec. 6.

By law, the Census Bureau must keep strictly confidential all information that would identify survey respondents or their households. Local households selected for the nationwide sample receive a letter from Census Bureau Director Charles Louis Kincannon. Some will be interviewed by telephone and others, in person. The field representatives carry official identification cards.

Sponsored by the BLS and the Census Bureau, the CPS will be conducted this year by the Census Bureau during the week of Nov. 17. At that time, a force of nearly 2,000 Census Bureau field representatives will conduct interviews at about 53,000 households nationwide.

According to the November 1998 voting survey, 51 percent of South Dakotans 18 and over voted in the 1998 general election.

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