There was no math error involved when the local effort for an accurate count in the 2010 U.S. Census kicked off Monday.
Sure, April 1, Census Day, is still eight months away, but the "Count Me In" campaign, announced by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, has a lot of misinformation to overcome between now and then.
That's the task of a joint city-county committee to be headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Baldwin and the Rev. Dr. J. Van Alfred Winsett, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in the Hill District. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch is the honorary chair.
As the Rev. Winsett put it, "we have to dispel the myth that many people have that census data collected can be used for other purposes." For example, the census is not a tool for locating illegal immigrants, miscreants, tax scofflaws or tenants not properly registered on leases.
It is vital for ensuring fair political representation and equitable allocation of federal dollars.
Reapportionment of seats in Congress and in the state Legislature as well as the number of electoral votes in a presidential election all are based on population. For every vote to count, every resident must be counted.
There's also big money involved. Based on an estimate from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in fiscal year 2007, $400 billion in federal funds were allocated in whole or in part based on the census.
In the past, under-counting has been rife among people of color, those with low incomes, renters, immigrants with limited English proficiency, adults who did not complete high school, young children and unemployed people. The local push is aimed at making sure those segments of the population are counted this time.
That's an effort that should add up.