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Ivey makes ‘final call’ for 2020 Census participation

With just over three weeks remaining before the Sept. 30 deadline to fill out the U.S. Census, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is urging all Alabamians to submit their responses as quickly as possible to ensure the state doesn’t suffer the dire consequences of an undercount.

Currently, the state’s self-response rate is 62.1 percent, a 0.4 percent decline over 2010’s self-response rate of 62.4 percent – when added to the responses generated from U/S. Census field workers thus far, a total of 78.5 percent of Alabama households have responded.

Ivey and leadership within the state’s census bureau, AlabamaCounts, is shooting for an 80 percent response rate by the end of the month.

“I’ve said it since our March kick-off and I will say it again: Alabama stands to lose too much if we do not reach our goal of maximum participation,” Ivey said in a press release Tuesday. “This isn’t just money for our state — it’s money for our small communities, for our educational systems, for our roads and for our children. There is simply too much community funding at stake here to disregard this final call.”

In the Black Belt, response rates are even lower.

Last month, AlabamaCounts Chairman Kenneth Boswell – who also serves as Director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) – sounded the alarm over Dallas County’s lagging response rate of 54.3 percent, a reality he said has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which stymied many of the agency’s previously tried-and-true methods for increase response rates.

“The Black Belt has historically been considered by the Census Bureau as a hard-to-count area and the challenges posed by CVID-19 have definitely impacted efforts [to reach people],” Boswell said in August. “Many of the in-person events and outreach scheduled for the spring and summer were postponed due to unsafe conditions for publics events.”

Ivey, alongside ADECA and AlabamaCounts, has been working since March to ensure that Alabama has robust participation in the 10-year count and recently stepped up efforts with the Sept. 2 launch of the Alabama Census Bowl, which offers low-responding counties – including Dallas County – the chance to win $65,000 for local schools through census participation.

“It takes a matter of six minutes to play your part in determining the future of our state by completing the census,” Ivey said. “These integral six minutes will determine what our communities will like, what our children’s education will be and even what our healthcare can provide throughout the next decade.”

At stake is some $13 million in federal funding for a wide array of programs, including education, free and reduced-price school lunches, healthcare, Head Start, roads and bridges and more, and the potential loss of a representative in Washington.

“Folks, it’s now or never and this is the time to act and to ensure Alabama has the future we hope to plan for,” Ivey said. “These last few weeks of Census 2020 are vital to our future as our federal representation, our economic development opportunities and our communities – and their citizens – will be impacted negatively unless we have a proper count.”

The 10-question census can be filled out online at my2020Census.gov, over the phone at 1-8440330-2020 or by traditional paper form.

Additionally, door-to-door U.S. Census takers, observing social distancing protocols, will also be targeting households across the state identified as current non-participants over the coming weeks.

For more information, visit www.alabama2020census.com.