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Libertarians to fill in one census box

Gov. Mike Leavitt encouraged public school students Monday to remind their parents to fill out Census Bureau questionnaires when they arrive in the mail later this month.

"Your future depends on Census 2000. . . .

Every Utahn counts," Leavitt said, reciting the motto for the multimillion-dollar Census 2000 awareness campaign that kicks off officially in Utah March 17.But the Libertarian Party is suggesting Utahns all but ignore the once-a-decade count of the country's population.

"I'm checking only the box that says how many people are in my house," said John Dexter, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Utah. "The federal government has no use for the rest of the information other than to decide how to allocate more unconstitutional funding."

The Census Bureau's "long form" questionnaire has 53 questions. It asks about such things as marital status, transportation choices, employment and household plumbing.

Libertarians argue that only a count is constitutionally mandated, and the rest of the questions are "nosy."

"The U.S. Constitution says the purpose of the Census is to make an enumeration for apportioning Congressional districts," said Steve Dasbach, the party's national director.

The Census Bureau wouldn't need a big advertising campaign to increase participation if the questionnaire weren't so long and complicated, Dasbach added.

The Census Bureau actually has two forms being mailed to citizens on March 15. A shorter version of the questionnaire with only eight questions will be sent to more than 80 percent of Americans.

But Dasbach said, regardless of which form he receives, he'll only be telling the Census Bureau how many people live in his household.