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State leaders stress the importance of 2020 Census

Updated: Jan. 29, 2020 at 8:08 AM EST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - State leaders are sending out a new plea to Alabamians to make sure everyone is counted in the upcoming 2020 census, saying this could be the most important census in the state’s history.

Every 10 years in the United States, a census is conducted to count every person living in the country. It's required by the U.S. Constitution, and the numbers have a big impact on communities.

As the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director explained, the count could either help maintain the state’s current federal funding or could get more federal dollars coming in.

“What is at stake is $13 billion to the state of Alabama. It impacts education, infrastructure, healthcare,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “To give you some examples of that - almost $3.9 Billion in Medicaid in 2016, $230 million in Title 1 education funds, and $797 million for highway planning and construction.”

If Alabama comes back with a low count, the state could lose a congressional seat in Washington, DC, possibly two.

“If you don't have someone at the table advocating for you, you're going to be left out, there is no doubt,” Boswell explained his concern. “So the more congressional seats we can keep, the better it is for the state, from the standpoint of making sure that we get our fair share.”

We’ll start seeing billboards, commercials on TV, and ads on social media in the next few weeks. Boswell, though, believes a grassroots campaign is the most effective way to get everyone involved and explained how everyone can play a part.

“Take this number, 205-304-5505 to participate in a service to be reminded about the census. And then you get it out to those people that are in your iPhone contacts. That’s how grassroots efforts grow. Because I can tell you now, we can put up all the billboards, we can run all the radio spots, we can do all the twitter, all the social media that we want to do, but there’s nothing more impactful, nothing more effective than the grassroots.”

It only takes about five minutes to fill out the census form. It will ask how many people living or staying in your home, their name, age, date of birth and relationship to the head of the household. It will also ask whether your home is owned or rented, and your telephone number.

Invitations to participate in the 2020 census will go out in the mail on March 12th. You can participate on paper, online, or by telephone. Census workers will start going door to door to catch up with those who have not participated by the end of April.

Only about 72 percent of Alabamians participated in the last census in 2010. State leaders say we need that number to be as close to 100% as possible this time around to make sure Alabama doesn’t lose anything.

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