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Census Bureau ready to end door-to-door polling

The field operation for the 2010 census, in which 565,000 enumerators knocked on the doors of 47 million households, is "essentially finished," the director of the U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday.

But field operations will continue to perform quality control checks through early September "to make sure we've got it right," director Robert Groves said.

"We're still doing things," Groves said during a teleconference about the field operation, in which enumerators interviewed people who hadn't returned the census form. The operation began in most areas on May 1 and formally concludes on Saturday.

Census takers visited about 152,000 households in Suffolk County and 149,000 in Nassau to which census forms were mailed, according to a spokeswoman for the New York Regional Census Center. In addition, another 96,000 households on the East End - where census forms were not mailed because many households get their mail at post office boxes - were visited by census takers.

The bureau must report to the president the nation's 2010 population count by December.

Groves said the next phase will involve verifying the work of census takers: making sure the information gathered is correct and confirming that addresses initially classified as vacant are indeed uninhabited.

"This is the phase where we don't add many folks to the count, but we do a whole lot of scrutiny on how good the count is," Groves said. "We check, double-check and triple-check things . . . to make sure we've got it right." He said that process will involve returns to about 8 million households. About 125,000 temporary census workers remain on the job, he said.

Groves said anyone who believes he or she was missed can call the bureau's national hotline at 866-872-6868 and be interviewed over the phone. Long Island residents can also call the local census office nearest them: Riverhead, 631-953-4000; Ronkonkoma, 631-615-3000; Locust Valley, 516-953-8180 or Garden City, 516-559-7500.

Groves praised the work of bureau staff and temporary census takers as well as 250,000 census "partners" who did education outreach or provided free office space to the bureau. He also thanked residents who participated.

In response to questions, Groves said more than 500 acts of violence against census takers had been reported nationwide, ranging from animal bites to car-jackings to shootings. (Public information officers for Nassau and Suffolk County police said Wednesday they were unaware of any assaults against census workers locally.) Groves said while each is an individual tragedy, the number was a "very, very small percentage ... I can't make a big case [that] this is a huge anti-government activity."

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