Texas/NM - Census Glitch Reaches El Paso Homes

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March 9, 2000 By Ken Flynn El Paso Times

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night  nor a big mistake by the U.S. Census Bureau  stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

An advance letter from the Census Bureau mailed last week to 115 million households in the United States contained an extra digit in front of each street address.

But the Post Office delivered them, anyway,thanks to a computerized bar code sorting system that ignored the address errors.

How accurate is the Census going to be if they cant get the address right? complained Major Spencer, a retiree on the East Side who received two letters with erroneous addresses. Makes you wonder how accurate are the people running the census.

Don Berger, spokesman for El Paso Postmaster Felix Guerra, said the Census letters had a bar code at the bottom of the envelope. The bar code, which is related to the address, was correct and all letters in the El Paso area were delivered.

The Postal Service said postal delivery people all over the United States did their jobs and delivered the mail despite the extra number on addresses.

Our high-speed, automated sorting machines can read the proper address from the bar code on the mail piece, said Judy A. de Torok, manager of media relations, U.S. Postal Service.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt explained the mistake:

The error itself occurred during printing and addressing of the advance letters by a private vendor. It should have been caught earlier by the Census Bureau quality assurance process.

The Census Bureau letter alerts the American public to the importance of the census which starts this month. The letter invites the reader to request a questionnaire form, if needed, in Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Chinese or Korean. The letters began arriving in rural areas last week and will be appearing in urban mailboxes this week.

Prewitt said the error will not affect the census count for 2000 or the delivery of questionnaires.

The majority of the U.S. population will receive their questionnaires in the mail this coming Monday through Wednesday. In more rural or remote areas, questionnaires began arriving March 3.

Copyright ) 2000 El Paso Times.



-- Dee360Degree (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 09, 2000


What if you return the letter unopened ; i.e. wrong address ? " I don't get the newspaper, listen to the ( lying ) T.V. or read the internet , etc. " ; think they have time to straighten all this out ? Joe S.

-- Joe Six-pack (playin@dumb.com), March 09, 2000.

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