Nation: One, Two, Three, Five...

Playing the numbers game in the 1980 census

Counting Americans every ten years would seem to be a noncontroversial enterprise, but the 1980 U.S. census has become immersed in politics up to its last decimal point. A growing number of people are worried about the accuracy of the tally because so much—political power as well as the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds—is riding on the outcome. The nose count will not begin until April, but Census Director Vincent Barabba already predicts that it will be the "toughest and most scrutinized ever. Everyone is going to be watching."

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