Volunteers to canvas area for census forms

If someone knocks at your door today with census information in tow, it's not the federal government.

Hundreds of volunteers from civic groups, fraternal organizations and the civil rights community are expected to fan out across the metro area and the state, reaching out to residents who have not turned in their census surveys. The effort will concentrate on areas where there are traditionally low return rates for the census.

It's called March to the Mailbox and is the last big effort to encourage everyone in America to turn in their forms, said Ed Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Households have until April 17 to mail the form back. Enumerators, who work for the census bureau, will begin going out to homes late in the month and into May and June seeking unreturned forms or to talk with residents whose forms were incomplete or unclear.

The drive comes just days before the bureau's self-imposed April 12 deadline after which residents who still have not received a form can call 1-866-872-6868 to get one.

Also, people who have post office boxes and haven't gotten a survey can have one mailed to them at their box after April 12.

Officials say the census is critical to metro Atlanta and Georgia. The federal government disperses $400 billion in annual funding based on census figures. The count, which is taken every 10 years, also determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Georgia is widely expected to pick up one House seat and possibly two.

The count also determines how legislative district lines will be drawn in each state.