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Today's census question: What's the envelope for?

Published Friday, March 10, 2000 By ADAM BELL

Most people who received a letter from the Census Bureau last week opened up a little mystery.

The letters sent to 115 million American homes reminded folks to fill out the census form coming in the mail. But it didn't explain - at least not in English - what the return envelope inside the letter was for.

At the bottom of the letter, five non-English sentences told readers to turn the page. That's where they could check off a box, and return it in the enclosed, postage-paid envelope, if they wanted the census questionnaire in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese or Tagalog, a language of the Philippines.

But English-speaking readers remained perplexed.

"Oh yes. The No. 1 call we're getting is what is this envelope for," said Jerry Stahl, a spokesman for the Charlotte Regional Census Center.

Census headquarters near Washington, D.C., took more than 300 envelope calls this week. But they could not say how much all the envelopes cost, or how many they expect to get back.

The pre-census letter also made headlines for another goof.

A census contractor misaddressed all 115 million letters by adding a 1 to the front of all addresses. A bar code under the address, however, let the post office deliver the mail to the right homes.

Reach Adam Bell at (828) 324-0055 or e-mail


-- (, March 10, 2000


LOL... I wondered about the extra envelope too!

-- Jen Bunker (, March 10, 2000.


-- tt (, March 10, 2000.

Aside from the envelope question, what about the second paragraph of the letter? Is this a sly appeal to greed and avarice? Wasn't the original purpose to determine the population distribution for determining representation in congress. Not nearly as appealing.


-- Warren Ketler (, March 10, 2000.

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