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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah officials are cheering a decision by the U.S. Census Bureau to test the feasibly of counting Americans living overseas as part of the 2010 Census.
Citizens living in France, Kuwait and Mexico can participate in the test.
"That's a good start," said Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah Attorney General's Office. "It's an indication they took our concerns seriously."
Utah filed a lawsuit in 2001 challenging, unsuccessfully, the bureau's practice in 2000 of counting only federal employees, military personnel and their families living overseas and excluding other residents, including those serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in foreign countries.
"We wanted to make sure Utahns living overseas were counted and represented," Murphy said.
Excluding missionaries cost the state a congressional seat. By not counting Mormon missionaries serving in foreign countries, about 11,000 people were not counted as Utah residents in the 2000 Census.
The state was 857 people short of gaining an additional house seat. That seat instead went North Carolina, which has a large military population.
The 2004 Overseas Enumeration Test, announced Wednesday, will include a publicity campaign to inform residents of how they can be counted.
"This could possibly be a benefit to Utah if the test is successful. ... We know that we have a good number of Utahns living overseas at any given time," said Neil Ashdown, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget.
The test will help determine how realistic and accurate it would be to count Americans overseas in the next census.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)