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.