Census Employee Takes Issue With Bob Barr’s Statements

Bob Barr recently wrote an article, which we reported on here, which stated that census workers could enter your home or apartment without your permission if you were not home at the time that they came by. Sandy Smith, a currently employee of the Census Bureau, takes issue with Barr’s statements.

Readers of former U.S. Rep Bob Barr’s (R-Ga.) blog “The Barr Code” at ajc.com might be forgiven for believing they can. After all, the headline on his May 26 entry flatly states, “Census workers can enter your apartment in your absence.” But it just so happens that this flat statement is flat-out wrong.

Barr’s blog goes on to state that census workers can demand access to individual living quarters to count residents and collect statistics, and that any owner, landlord or agent who refuses to grant that access can be fined $500. Citizens, he adds, can also be fined for failing to answer the “increasingly intrusive” questions on the census.

The only true statement in the above summary of what Barr wrote is that the fine for failing to cooperate with the decennial census count is $500. The rest of the summary, and the blog entry itself, is either twisted out of shape or grossly exaggerated.

The section of the Federal law governing the census does state that landlords and owners must give census workers access to apartment buildings, hotels, rooming houses, and similar facilities (including gated communities by inference), or provide the names of residents inside them, upon request, with a $500 fine for any owner who refuses to do either. The law does not permit, nor does the Census Bureau instruct, census workers to enter apartments or other dwellings in the absence of the inhabitants. In fact, census takers are trained not to enter residences even when the residents invite them in. The fine — $25 at the time of the first census in 1790, $500 now — is almost never levied against anyone.

Bob Barr is the former Libertarian Party presidential candidate and LNC member.

6 thoughts on “Census Employee Takes Issue With Bob Barr’s Statements

  1. Stewart Flood

    And we’re expected to believe a census worker?

    After the questioning that I got over the vacant apartment next to me, I wonder exactly what they are after. They insisted that I answer questions — and I don’t live there!

    Don’t trust a census employee.

  2. LibertarianGirl

    no fucking shit , they came to my house 3 times , we had already filled the entire thing out and they had MORE questions , why do they need all that info , supposedly all they need were number of people in household . at my grandmas , her neighbor told them to fuck off , they came to her house twice to get the dudes last name , cuz he wouldnt give it .

  3. Susan Hogarth

    @Stewart: And we’re supposed to believe an ex-congressman?

    See what happens when you tar with such a broad brush?

    It so happens that I do believe this worker, and am really amazed that Barr would pen such a silly conclusion without doing simple due diligence. It certainly gives me very little faith in his ability as a lawyer, but on the bright side he might have a future as a talk-show host. If you can’t light intellectual fires, you may as well toss out a few rhetorical incendiary devices, I guess…

  4. Stewart Flood


    All I know is what happened to me. I was grilled twice, once for me (my apartment) and again by another worker for the apartment next door.

    I told her that I didn’t live there and she said “I know, we know who you are.” Just like that. That’s what the first worker said as well. Then she made me give her my name and phone number and answer questions about the apartment next door which has been empty for more than a year!

    I said it was empty — had been for a year. She asked who was living there on April 1. I said, I just said that it is empty. She asked again, who was living there on April 1. I said, no one has lived there for more than a year! She asked the same *&*&*& question AGAIN! I finally said No one was living there on April 1, I’ve already told you that the apartment has been empty for more than a year!

    Then she insisted on getting my name again — AFTER saying that she already knew who I was. If she knows who I am, why does she need my name?

    These people are…beyond stupid.

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