Mary Watts, tour producer for the Pacific Northwest, says getting an accurate count is critical to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, but also for federal funding of social services, schools and hospitals.
"Each year now, there are about $400 billion that will be redistributed to communities based on the population that is tabulated by the census data, and that will be used for the next ten years."
The more forms that are returned by mail, the less need for door-to-door census-takers. In 2000, about 65 percent of the forms were mailed in; Watts says they want to improve on that number this year.
"Right now, we have a goal of 70 percent; we would love for it to be higher. For every one percent increase in our mail response rate, we save taxpayers about $85 million."
Watts says the tour includes a chance for people to record their pictures and the reasons they’ll be filling out their census forms, which will be shared on a national Web page and social networking sites.