The Alabama Farmers Federation is joining Gov. Kay Ivey and dozens of businesses and organizations in encouraging residents to stand up and be counted for the 2020 Census.
“The stakes are extremely high for this year’s census,” said Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, who chairs the rural subcommittee for the Census campaign. “If Alabama doesn’t improve on its count from previous years, the state risks losing at least one seat in Congress as well as funding for everything from infrastructure and healthcare to nutrition and the Cooperative Extension System.”
This month, the Census Bureau will begin mailing invitations to Alabama households asking them to respond online, by phone or by mail.
In April, Census takers will begin visiting colleges, senior centers and other locations to collect data where large groups of people live.
In May, Census takers will begin visiting individual homes. The online Census form will close in August.
“We encourage everyone to respond during the initial period in the spring,” said Kenneth Boswell, chair of Alabama Counts! and director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. “The Census form is simple to complete, and the data provided is private and protected by law.”
In 2016, Alabama received $13 billion in federal funding from 55 programs based on the 2010 Census.
Despite the importance of Census data, Boswell said research indicates mistrust and complacency remain barriers to achieving a complete count. Alabama Counts! surveyed people in all 67 counties to identify areas where additional education is needed. Respondents were grouped into four categories based on their likelihood to participate: extremely likely, very likely, somewhat likely and unlikely.
“Historically, around 60 percent of Alabamians have responded to the U.S. Census, and that number lines up with people who said ‘extremely likely’ and ‘very likely’ in our research,” said Boswell. “People who were ‘somewhat likely’ are the ones on the fence who we need to motivate to be counted. We have to share with them that it’s safe, quick, easy and matters a great deal to their community.”
Alabama Counts! is emphasizing the Census form includes just 10 questions and takes about six minutes to complete.
Pinyan said the Federation can play a major role in ensuring a complete count in rural Alabama.
“Our grassroots organization gives the Federation an excellent opportunity to communicate the importance, ease and confidentiality of the Census,” he said. “Federation leaders are among the most respected in their communities. We encourage members to utilize their relationships at church, school, work and in civic organizations to talk about the value of the Census.”
In addition to determining federal funding and Congressional apportionment, Census data give community leaders vital information to make decisions about planning for the future. Responding also fulfills a civic duty. The Census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and has been taken every 10 years since 1790.
Census surveys are safe, secure and protected by federal law. Answers can only be used to produce statistics. They cannot be used against respondents by any government agency or court. The Census will never ask for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, money or donations, or anything related to political parties.
For more information, visit Alabama2020Census.com.