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Figure 3. In this hypothetical exampleClick to Enlarge Image

The Census Bureau's proposal to use statistical methods to improve the accuracy of the decennial census has caused misunderstanding—and some contention—among members of Congress and the public. As the author explains, however, such techniques have scientific validity and are already widely used in population counts of wildlife, among others uses. Indeed, sampling has been employed by the Bureau of the Census in the past to monitor the quality of the "-count" census. The current proposal seeks to allow statistical sampling to feed back into the conventional census, reducing the degree of undercounting—especially among minorities.

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