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'2019 Congressional District Census' is a political mailing

Updated: August 01, 2019 08:11 PM

There's a lot of talk about the census these days, but some official-looking forms showing up in mailboxes right now are not from the government or tied in any way to the upcoming 2020 census.

"The candidates, parties and groups are all looking for ways to trick voters into paying attention to the mailings that they are putting so much money into," political analyst Larry Jacobs said.

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The document has the title "2019 Congressional District Census" and says in bold print "your participation is urgently needed" and looks official, even including a "document tracking code."

"They may get this and be fooled into thinking it is a U.S. census document. It's not," Jacobs said. "It's only when you get to the bottom of the second page that you see paid by the Republican Party."

RELATED: Minnesota back in 2020 election spotlight

The mailings are not new. Jacobs said the Republican Party is likely trying to catch the attention of voters using the word census just months before actual government census forms will be mailed. Additionally, the word is getting extra attention this year after President Donald Trump's now failed attempt to get a citizenship question on the 2020 census form.

"Let's face it, a lot of people don't follow politics and they may be misled to think this is a formal U.S. census document and that is the risk," Jacobs said.

A closer look at the forms reveals their partisan nature. The questions are politically charged. And on the back, there's a place to make a donation.

Democrats have also sent out similar "official-looking" surveys in the past, with the same politically-slated questions. But the Democratic surveys have stopped short of using the word census.

Members of Congress have previously asked the Postal Service to investigate the use of the mailings, arguing they violate federal law by misrepresenting themselves as official government documents, but they've been allowed to continue.

Jacobs said it's important for voters to realize they are not required to fill out the forms or make a donation.

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Matt Belanger

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