Census means much to the area

Published 12:33 am Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When the census data was collected in 2000, only an estimated 62 percent of Alabama residents completed the survey, leaving about 53,000 people uncounted, roughly equivalent to the total amount of people living in Dallas, Perry, Marengo and Hale counties, costing the state $13,1555 of federal funding for each failed person to count for the 10-year period.

Now that it is 2010 and the state has the opportunity to recount and claim potentially more funding for the upcoming years, officials are urging people to complete the census surveys.

“It’s short, it’s quick, it’s simple,” said Congressman Artur Davis. “There’s no excuse not to do it.” The survey has been whittled town to 10 questions and is estimated to take about 10 minutes to complete.

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The congressman from the 7th District held a census summit Tuesday at Wallace Community College Selma to talk about how important it is for people to answer the 10 questions on the census.

Census data is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, planning for economic development decisions and amounts of money allocated to programs such as highway planning, education grants, Title 1 grants, Medicaid, Section 8 housing, federal transit formula grants, children’s health insurance program or school lunch program.

“We want to count you,” said Dr. Daryl Lee, senior partnership specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau. “We want to count everyone and count them in the right place.”

The information collected from the census is confidential for 72 years, so Lee encourages everyone, whether behind on child support, legal, illegal, or otherwise, to fill out the forms.

“It’s easy to say it doesn’t affect me, but it does,” said Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard.

With the economy still recovering, Ballard believes that it has never been more important to complete the census for the state to receive funding.

Dr. D’Linell Finley, assistant professor of political science at Auburn University at Montgomery, believes that the census is the best way to take the abstract needs of the community and turn it into practical application and communication with the government about the needs of the community.

“If you don’t get that information out, no one will know the real need in your community,” Finley said. “You risk under representation in your community in crucial issues.”

He believes that if members of a community do not fill out the form, it is the fault of the people for a shift of representation in government or economic development.

“If they can’t count you, then you don’t deserve representation,” Finley said. “Our democracy is best served when all our citizens enjoy representation and participation.”

As a final request to all people, Larry Childers, director of the communications and information divisions of the Alabama, asked that people spread the word about the importance of completing the census form.

“Please make sure everyone you come in contact with knows how important it is to be participate and be counted,” Childers said. “There’s a concentration in this area, but there are people all over the state at risk to not be counted.”