From: Sue Armstrong
To: Michael Hardy
Date: Feb 26 1996 9:25:05 am
Subject: census
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A lone voice in the wilderness, Michael mournfully howled out "census"

MH> In fact, the Romans *did* require people to travel to their
MH> birthplace in order to register for a census.  A census edict from
MH> Egypt, from 104 a.d., shows that they did just that. It begins: "Gaius
MH> Vibius Maximus, prefect of Egypt, says: The house-to-house census
MH> having started, it is essential that all persons who for any reason
MH> whatsoever are absent from their homes be summoned to return to their
MH> own hearths, in order that they perform the customary business of
MH> registration." ("A History of Rome Through the Fifth Century, ed.
MH> A.H.M. Jones, c. 1970, Harper and Row.)

That sounds more like what enumeration notices say these days -
"Enumerators will be coming around on such and such a day; please
be home so that you may be included on the elector's list.  If you
are not on this list, you will not be allowed to vote."  All you
have to do is be home - if you've moved from your city of birth,
you don't have to back there to be enumerated.  In fact, it'd be a
mistake to do so, since you don't even live there any more.  Same
thing with a census - it would make the count in error if people
were leaving their present city of residence to be counted.  One
year I was registered for the federal vote, I was living in
Toronto; I wasn't required to go back to Windsor (my place of
birth) to be enumerated, and I was to vote in the riding in which
I currently resided.  In fact, I move around so much, I've voted
in three or four different ridings already, and I have a feeling
I've moved to yet another, though I haven't checked on riding
boundaries yet, either federal or provincial.  I don't expect that
the US census or enumeration authorities expect people to be
travelling back to wherever they're born, either, for such
purposes.

Therefore, it seems that the Romans were asking nothing more than
that people be home on a given day so that the census-takers could
make an accurate count of how many people currently reside in each
area/city.  It makes no sense to register people for cities in
which they no longer reside; and "one's own hearth" refers to
nothing more than their current house and home.  The Romans
weren't stupid; in fact, they were very good administrators and
would know better than to make people leave their current
residences to be counted, registered, or enumerated.

--Wolfie

"Wake me, shake me, tell me it's a dream,
I've got a B-52 on my TV screen
And a man in a tie, pointing to the sky,
Where you gonna run to now?"
--Redgum

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