In early August, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it would be changing the timetable of the Census, opting to close counting on Sept. 30, 2020 instead of the original Oct. 31 date.
Many have expressed concerns that the Census Bureau’s schedule change will result in an undercount, primarily of minorities and those demographic groups that often do not respond in great numbers.
The Census impacts $675 billion dollars in funding and congressional representation in the House of Representatives. As a state, Alabama is currently sitting at a 60.9 percent response rate, three percent below the national average. Lee County has a 60.1 percent response rate, but Auburn is currently farther behind at 56.6 percent.
“If we finished at this level today, we would likely lose a congressional representative, not to mention a share of critical federal funding that supports important programs like school lunches, roads and infrastructure, SNAP, health care and education,” said Mike Presley, unit chief of Communications and External Affairs at the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
The Census not only impacts the state’s representation, but also the ability for the states to get funds for free and reduced lunches for schools, or Pell grants for college students, both of which are at-risk of either lost or reduced funding depending on the Census results.
On Aug. 11, Alabama began going door-to-door in order to collect data from those who have not completed the Census. In a press conference last month, Gov. Kay Ivey said that a longer timetable was in Alabama’s best interest.
“Fortunately for us, this is a marathon not a sprint,” said Ivey. "There is still time to complete your Census and avoid the knock."
The race for Alabamians just got a little bit shorter.
“It gives us 30 less days to increase the count but we have adjusted our time line and efforts accordingly,” said Presley.
To encourage participation, the Alabama 2020 Census Committee announced several initiatives in order to encourage citizens to complete the Census. “Drop Everything, Be Counted Day” for Alabama businesses, which began on Wednesday, will be for CEOs and upper management to provide opportunities for all employees to set aside time to participate in the Census if they have not done so already.
There is also the Alabama Census Bowl, a competition among 32 counties with the lowest self-participation rates to see who can raise their self-participation rate the most, with up to $65,000 in funds to benefit public K-12 schools going to the winning county.
With the deadline approaching, officials are urging anyone who has not completed the Census to do so as soon as possible.
“If you still need to participate in the 2020 Census, do not put it off any longer,” said Presley. “It only takes about six minutes to answer the 10 simple questions.”
You can complete the Census one of three ways — online at my2020census.gov; by phone at 844-330-2020; or by returning the paper form.