Elected offices from multiple branches of government gathered at the Foley Fire Department on Tuesday, Sept. 8 to urge Baldwin County citizens to complete their 2020 Census. The results of the 2020 …
Elected offices from multiple branches of government gathered at the Foley Fire Department on Tuesday, Sept. 8 to urge Baldwin County citizens to complete their 2020 Census. The results of the 2020 Census will affect Alabama for the next ten years in terms of federal funding and representation. Alabama is currently at 61.7% response rate, lagging behind the national rate of 64.7%. Baldwin County is at a 58% response rate.
“Those numbers are not good, particularly as long as we’ve been in this and preparing for this,” said Congressman Bradley Byrne. “I want to plead with people in all the first congressional district, if you have not responded to the census survey please stop whatever you’re doing and do it now. It’s important for you, it’s important for others in the State of Alabama, and indeed it’s important to the entire nation.”
At the current response rate Alabama is in jeopardy of losing one of its seven seats in the United States House of Representatives.
“It could be someone in our area,” said Byrne. “It could be a thing where they split our district so that Mobile County is in one congressional district and Baldwin County is in another. That would hurt our area greatly.”
Along with representation, the census determines how federal grant dollars are distributed throughout the state. Every year, $13 billion comes into Alabama, affecting education, healthcare and highway infrastructure.
“We cannot do what we need to do in this state without those federal dollars flowing into Alabama,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell. “Baldwin County is lagging, and we need your help, we need people to be very sensitive to this. The more the census number gets higher, the more we solidify being able to keep those dollars coming into our state to help people, whether it’s direct help or indirect help. It impacts us all.”
A portion of the federal money appropriated by the census affects law enforcement agencies, who receive large amounts of grants via the funds. According to Sheriff Hoss Mack, filling out the census helps give law enforcement officers an accurate count while helping them prepare for the future. This includes assisting with improved infrastructure and grants to keep agencies well prepared to face the population growth experienced in Baldwin County.
“It’s important to note that 39% of the state’s population growth in the last five years occurred here in Baldwin County,” said Senator Chris Elliott. “From all over the state as we grew in some areas and shrank in others, Baldwin County represented 39% of that growth. That’s almost 50,000 people in the last ten years. The important thing is to make sure that we get our share of that state transportation, education, and law enforcement municipal dollars. Those need to be coming right here to Baldwin County and the best way to do that is to fill out the census.”
The deadline to fill out the census is Sept. 30, but elected officials urge those who have not yet done so to fill out their forms now. There are many ways to complete the census. You can log on to my2020census.gov, call 844-330-2020 to either complete your census over the phone or to request a paper form be mailed to your address, or complete your form through a census worker as they go door-to-door visiting unresponsive addresses. Census workers are trained in proper PPE, will remain at a distance of six feet while conducting the census interview, and will not come inside homes during the process. If a census worker asks for personal or financial information, do not give any out and instead call 844-330-2020 to report a scam.
“This is the easiest census ever in my lifetime, demographic questions is all it asks,” said Boswell. “Name, age, date of birth, whether you own or rent your home, and how many people are living there. So take the six minutes, fill it out … This is the last time we’ll do this for ten years, ten years you won’t get to do this again. So we’ve got this chance to do it right and to make sure these dollars continue to come into this state and to make sure that we have the representation that we need for our Alabama voice to go to Washington DC.”