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Opinion | Roby: Your census response matters

The census not only counts the American population, but it also determines Alabama’s congressional representation in Washington, the amount of federal funding the state receives, and data that will impact our communities in the future.

As I recently wrote about all the ways government agencies are assisting during the current health pandemic, I want to focus on a significant action Alabamians can take now to support our state for years to come. As you know, the U.S. Census Bureau is in the process of conducting the 2020 Census. Several census operations were adapted or delayed due to Coronavirus in order to protect the health and safety of the Census Bureau staff and the public. The Census Bureau is dedicated to ensuring the population is counted, even amid this global pandemic.

According to the Census Bureau, information provided daily to the Bureau from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state and local officials regarding the Coronavirus is used to guide the Bureau’s next steps with timing decisions. Particular field operations will resume on a phased schedule and a geographic basis. The original “self-response phase” began March 12 and was scheduled to end at the end of this month. The revised deadline for individuals to submit a self-response online, in the mail, or over the phone is now set for October 31.

This new deadline allows for an additional three months to respond to the census, which can greatly impact the number of responses submitted to the Census Bureau. The most up-to-date data from the U.S. Census Bureau on July 16 shows the national self-response rate is 62.1 percent, Alabama’s rate is 59.8 percent, and the Second Congressional District’s rate is 58.2 percent. In the 2010 Census, the final self-response rate for the Second District was 63.5 percent.

Your response is critical for the future of our state. The census not only counts the American population, but it also determines Alabama’s congressional representation in Washington, the amount of federal funding the state receives, and data that will impact our communities in the future. My office is dedicated to dispersing 2020 Census guidance and data as well as informing Alabamians on how to participate. My staff and I have been talking with state agencies and the Census Bureau to learn more about ways in which we can encourage participation and help spread insightful information regarding the Census, and I recently began weekly social media updates spotlighting the 2020 Census.

I want to thank each individual who has done their part by completing their census response. If you have not yet answered your 2020 Census, you can do so online now. You can also complete your response by mailor telephone (1-844-330-2020). Responding is quick, easy, secure, and confidential. The future of our state’s representation in Congress and the Electoral College are at stake, and we must ensure that Alabama receives its fair share of federal funding for numerous programs.Your response will help to direct billions of federal dollars to support our local schools, infrastructure projects, emergency services, and many other public services. Alabama needs an accurate count, and your response makes a difference.

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