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Census-style campaign mailer

Census-style campaign mailers from the Republican National Committee are raising eyebrows at the Montana Census and Economic Information Center.

The mailers, circulated in September, are identified as a “2019 Congressional District Census" and in smaller type, "commissioned by the Republican Party.”

It’s the Census part of the mailer that has officials concerned, said Emilie Ritter Saunders, a Montana Department of Commerce spokesperson. The Montana CEIC is part of the Montana Department of Commerce. The state would rather not have the public confused about mail from U.S. Census, which will start mailing information about the decennial Census in March 2020.

“Our biggest concern is that the group is calling (the mailer) a census. They used language, at the top of the form, they call it a 2019 Congressional District Census,” said Ritter Saunders.

Montana has a lot riding on getting the population count right in the decennial Census, including a slight chance of picking up a second U.S. House district for the first time since 1992.

The drab, black-and-white mailer informs recipients they’ve been selected to represent their community. Questions follow concerning what political party the recipient identifies with and whether they support President Donald Trump.

“As a key facet of our overall strategy to ensure President Trump is re-elected, the Republican Party is conducting a Census of key members and supporters in Congressional Districts all across our nation,” the mailer reads.

The RNC, in an email to the Billings Gazette, said the survey is similar to those sent by the Democratic Party in other states, specifically Maryland and California. However, samples of Democratic Party mailers did not display language identifying the questionnaires as a census.

A similar Census-style mailer was issued to Montanans by the Republican Party in May.

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