Census count eludes some in Carroll

Forms not delivered to many residents with post office boxes

June 30, 2000|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,SUN STAFF

If a well-respected Carroll County delegate had trouble getting counted in the census, what does that say about others who might have been overlooked?

Del. Joseph M. Getty, a Republican from Manchester, finally was counted Wednesday night. He got his family counted by calling the census telephone number, 800-471-9424. He wanted to fulfill his patriotic duty and be included in the 2000 Census. The problem was, he had trouble getting census officials to acknowledge his existence.

This is because Getty has a street address, but his mail goes to a post office box. "Since we live in an area where it is difficult to put up mailboxes, we don't get delivery," he says.

He never received a census form, and was waiting for a census employee to take a head count - until yesterday. "And I have six kids, so there are eight people in the household," Getty said.

Around mid-May, Getty received one form in the mail from the Census Bureau.

"It said, if you have a post office box, what's your street address? So I sent that back in, but there was never any follow-up," he said.

At that time, Getty called a census information telephone number, but was put on hold for five minutes and finally hung up.

This problem is not limited to Carroll County.

It surfaced in Baltimore County early last month. Families in the communities of Brooklandville and Stevenson have the same arrangement as Getty.

The families have street addresses, but their mail is delivered to a box at the post office. After looking into the Baltimore County situation, census officials acknowledged that a mistake had been made and that some residents could have been missed.

"I would like to think we got everybody in Carroll County, but if we missed them, we have to go back and get them," said Jay Waite, assistant director for census operations in Suitland.

In March, 100 million census forms were mailed to homes with street addresses. Another 20 million were hand-delivered to homes with post office boxes. But not all.

Census officials estimate that about 100,000 households nationwide might fall in that category which, they say, is a small number.

The census was discussed at the quarterly meeting Carroll's mayors hold with the county commissioners. "The mayors are checking with people in town and looking for a way to correct the problem," Getty said.

The Baltimore County situation was rectified, as will be the one in Carroll County, Waite said,

"If I have to go out in my car and personally count that household myself, I will," said Waite when first told of Getty's situation. Waite was told only the address, not to whom it belongs.

"I just want assurances that Carroll County is being treated fairly," he said.

According to Waite, it will be.

Think you've been missed? You have until the end of business today to call 800-471-9424.

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