Alabamians urged to respond as census deadline extended

All year long, state and local leaders have been beating the drum about taking in the 2020...
All year long, state and local leaders have been beating the drum about taking in the 2020 Census. But Alabama still ranks dead last in participation, which could mean the loss of state representation, and millions of dollars in funding.(WBRC)
Updated: Oct. 6, 2020 at 8:13 AM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The U.S. census deadline has been extended through Oct. 31 after a federal judge ordered more time saying it would ensure a more accurate count.

That’s important because Alabama has one of the lowest self-response rates in the country.

“Right now the participation rate, self participation rate is 63.2%, meaning those that have actually participated by computer, telephone or paper form,” said Kenneth Boswell, director of Alabama’s Department of Economic and Community Affairs, or ADECA, and chairman of the Alabama Counts Census Committee.

“Now, our enumerator census workers are out in the field. They have called upon 94.9 percent of the homes in the state of Alabama," Boswell said. "Although they called on those homes, that does not reflect the number of people that are in those homes. And we won’t know that until Dec. 31. So, we hope our numbers are going to be good. We are working diligently to make sure that those enumerators are in the field.”

The results of the census will have major implications. It determines congressional representation, billions of dollars in federal funding every year, and provides data that will impact communities for the next decade.

“$13 billion that’s coming into the state of Alabama, and I would tell you those dollars actually go toward health care, our road system, as well as our education system,” Boswell explained. “Let’s say those people that are receiving low heat dollars, whether it be our senior citizens or people that are less fortunate than some of us that need help from time to time, that helps pay for the electric bill and gas bills. But not only that, but it helps with SNAP programs. It helps with free and reduced lunches. So that will help people understand how important the census is. And we only have once every 10 years to do that. So our decisions that we make today will impact the future of the state of Alabama for the next decade."

The census asks 10 questions and should only take about six minutes to complete. There are several ways to get it done.

“You can do it online with or you can call 1-844-330-2020 and participate by phone, or we have enumerators/census workers in the field. They are trained in the appropriate PPE and how to maintain the six foot social distancing. So if they knock on your door, please open it. Please respond. It’s simply takes about six minutes and it will impact not only you, but your family for the next 10 years,” Boswell explained.

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