“Folks, if we turn out at the rate we did in 2000, we will lose two congressional seats. If we turn out to the rate we had in 2010, we’ll lose one. My goal for this census is to reach at least 80% participation rate, set a record and stand up and be counted.”
Gov. Kay Ivey
CULLMAN, Ala. – Next year’s census is vitally important to Alabama, both in terms of federal funding and representation in Washington. To that end, a special event was held Wednesday at Cullman Regional, where Gov. Kay Ivey, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama and U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham addressed a large luncheon crowd about the need for an accurate count, especially in rural areas.
Elected officials from counties and towns across north Alabama, along with the Cullman area’s entire state legislative delegation, were on hand to welcome the governor and census director and hear what they had to say.
Aderholt told the audience, “What we want to make sure is that our numbers reflect the true population for the state of Alabama,” as he talked about the relationship of census numbers to federal funding for the state. The state receives $1,600 in federal funding for each resident, and Aderholt pointed out that for each Alabama resident not counted, his or her $1,600 will go somewhere else.
“Having an accurate and complete census is vitally important because of the correlation between the participation rate and the federal funds we get that go to health care, infrastructure, education and on and on,” Ivey said. “Folks, if we turn out at the rate we did in 2000, we will lose two congressional seats. If we turn out to the rate we had in 2010, we’ll lose one. My goal for this census is to reach at least 80% participation rate, set a record and stand up and be counted.”
Dillingham commended Ivey and her staff on their progress toward the 2020 census, and addressed how the census will attempt to reach areas that are typically hard to count, including rural areas like much of Cullman County. He emphasized the ease of the current census approach, noting that residents can respond by mail, internet or smart device. He said census workers will personally reach out to known residents who do not respond.
He was careful to point out that information gathered during the census is protected by federal law and cannot be used by any other agency. He talked about the security technologies that constantly monitor all data coming into the United State Census Bureau to guard against access by outside parties.
The bureau is currently canvassing addresses using a combination of existing address lists, satellite imagery to locate dwellings and census workers knocking on doors to verify residency.
Dillingham also spoke to common census count issues, saying that the bureau is taking steps to count children, native populations, non-English speakers and even homeless populations.
“It is vitally important that Alabama have a better census participation rate than we did in 2010,” said Aderholt. “That year, only 72% participated. We must do better than that. Alabama has the population to maintain the federal programs our people need, but it is essential that the people of this great state are counted accurately in order to continue to qualify for the health care, transportation and education programs our state needs.”
Continued Aderholt, “I greatly appreciate Director Dillingham coming to Cullman to hear the concerns many of us have about making sure people who live in rural areas have the same opportunity and ability to complete their census forms as those who live in large, metropolitan areas. Every American citizen should be counted no matter where they call home.”
For more on the 2020 census, visit www.census.gov.
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