Friday is the deadline to return 2010 Census forms by mail and avoid a house call from federal head-counters, and officials in Alaska are using the final days to make a last-minute push to keep the state from claiming a dubious honor.
As of Wednesday, Alaska had the worst participation rate in the country, with only 57 percent of households returning their forms.
Conducted every 10 years, the nationwide population count is used to spread money for schools, roads and other projects as well as re-draw political boundaries. While the Anchorage-area participation rate is one of the highest in the state -- approaching the national average of 67 percent -- pockets of the city lag far behind.
In hopes of goosing those numbers, Census workers this week are hanging fliers from doorknobs in city neighborhoods with low compliance, including Mountain View, Merrill Field-Fairview and Boniface north of DeBarr Road, said Gloria Yates, a Census specialist in Alaska. Meantime, the Anchorage School District is using the automated phone call system it relies on to alert parents about picture day or PTA meetings to prod nearly 8,000 households in areas where families aren't returning the form.
Census officials said they've seen no sign of political boycotts in Alaska and mused that the low response rate could arise from any number of reasons, from mail delays to simple procrastination. The state ranked last in participation during the 2000 Census too.
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