LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The U.S. Census Bureau wants to know your phone number, your race, and whether you rent or own your home. The Constitution mandates the government perform a census every 10 years, but some South Plains residents feel the questions on this year's census get too personal.
"It does strike me as somewhat personal. On the other hand, if you need information on what the status of the nation is, how can we get that status without asking these questions," said TTU Law Professor William Casto.
For some, filling out the census form is just part of their civic duty.
"I think they're reasonable questions. It's a good idea. Need to do it probably more than every 10 years because it lets us know what people are doing," said Lynn Zickefoose.
Others, like Alan Eubank, find the questions intrusive and inappropriate.
"It's not the government's business for me to tell them what my phone number is or whether I rent or own a home or whatever. They're just taking a count of people, and that's all they're going to get out of my household," he said.
Technically, the government can fine you $100 if you don't fill out the census completely, $500 if you give false information, and $1,000 along with up to a year in prison if you give false information with the intent to cause an inaccurate count.
"That's fine," said Eubank. "They can try to collect. They can throw me in jail. Whatever they want to do, but the government has over stepped it's bounds."
Casto says the constitution does allow congress to ask personal questions, and he says those personal questions are nothing new.
"In 1840 they asked how many people are in your family, and then they asked how many of those people are idiots? That's what they said. Idiots," said Casto.
While some may feel the questions pry into their life, the U.S. Census Bureau says they will keep all individual's information confidential. The census is used to allocate political representation and about $400-billion a year in federal funding for the next decade.
©2010 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.