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Friday, April 16, 2010

Somali population in Franklin County have ranged from 15,000 to 80,000.

If you can't make the Friday deadline, you "should still try to pop it in the mail," said Kim Hunter, a spokesman for the Census Bureau based in Detroit. But "after Friday, the chances are raised pretty high that somebody is going to come by."
As of yesterday afternoon, 65 percent of Franklin County residents had mailed back the form, despite repeated public appearances by Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, state Treasurer Kevin L. Boyce (a former Columbus City Council member), and other city and county officials urging residents to send it back.

Of the Big 8 cities, Columbus bested only Cleveland. The best response among Ohio's largest cities was in Canton, at 67 percent.
"The mayor's been pounding this," said Coleman spokesman Dan Williamson. "He's had a number of events, both with the media and to reach different communities. He talked about it in the State of the City. He's talked about it whenever he can."
Columbus has a challenge because of its international population, particularly its Somali residents, Williamson said.
"There are some cultural barriers, there are some languages barriers - frankly, there's some suspicion," Williamson said. City officials worked hard to overcome that, but it remains a challenge, he said.
Somali leaders in Columbus complained last month that the U.S. Census Bureau hasn't done enough to educate members of their community, especially recent immigrants, about why it is important to fill out the census form. Census officials responded that they had spent more than a year presenting workshops to Columbus' Somali community and had hired a Somali leader to help with the count.
Columbus has the second-largest Somali community in the country, behind Minneapolis-St. Paul. Estimates of the Somali population in Franklin County have ranged from 15,000 to 80,000.
Boyce said he has been told by census officials that Franklin County's response rate is about where it was at this point during the 2000 census. He expects there to be a late surge in mailings.

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