If you are the parent of a child in a K-12 school, a college student doing their best to avoid debt, if you pay taxes, or if you are able to be injured and therefore in need of healthcare, you need to complete the Census.
The 2020 Census is the 10-question survey that will impact Alabamians' day-to-day life in the years to come. It will determine where funding goes for schools, colleges, taxes, healthcare, and more.
Schools' abilities to offer free and reduced lunches, or colleges' ability to offer Pell grants, are at risk of being lost if the state is undercounted.
Beyond funding, the Census also affects Alabama’s representation in Congress. However, the state’s funding and representation will be in jeopardy if there is undercounting.
With the majority of people at home these days, one might assume that there would be no undercounting during this Census.
However, according to the Auburn Planning Director Forrest Cotten, that might not be the case.
"There is a lot of undercounting going on in general," he said. "That is somewhat exacerbated by the trying times that all jurisdictions are experiencing right now."
Should there be an undercount, the city of Auburn will challenge the Census results. In fact, a similar situation occurred during the last Census in 2010.
However, while speaking highly of the data the city has been able to collect, Cotten cautions against relying on a challenge.
“Challenges are not terribly successful,” notes Cotten. “We felt like we had a lot of our students undercounted in 2010. We actually provided evidence to that effect yet we were not credited, in my opinion, appropriately."
With many students being sent home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, an undercount of students is once again a concern for Kenneth Boswell, the director of Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
“We are working with student governments to get the word out to communicate with students off campus to complete the form at the place that they are living during the time they are at school, not out of state,” he said.
For Boswell, completing the Census was not only about benefiting himself but also the lives of his family.
“I don’t want my grandchildren to suffer from something they have no control over," he said.
The Census is able to be completed in three ways: by mail, by phone, or online. It is a 10-question survey that should only take about 10 minutes to fill out. With that 10 minutes having a monumental impact, Boswell urges all Alabamians to just do it.
As of Monday, Alabama’s self-response rate was reported at 54.8 percent, well below its 2010 response rate of 62.5 percent.
Census statistics show that Lee County currently has a 54.2 percent response rate, which represents one of the state’s largest upward trends when compared with previous reports. In mid-April, Lee County's rate was 45.9 percent.
The city of Auburn has also seen an increase in its self-response rate over the past three weeks. Auburn's rate is currently 51.7 percent, up from 45.3 percent on April 15.
For more information on the 2020 Census and its impacts, visit www.2020census.gov.