Alabama at risk of losing congressional seat, funding; state asks for increase in census participation

Alabama at risk of losing congressional seat, funding; state asks for increase in census participation
State and local leaders are urging you to fill out the 2020 census report this spring. (Source: WAFF)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) -Five hundred billion dollars: that’s about how much federal money will be divided among the states. But how much of that will go to Alabama? That’s where you come in.

State and local leaders are urging you to fill out the 2020 census report this spring.
State and local leaders are urging you to fill out the 2020 census report this spring. (Source: WAFF)

The 2020 census forms won’t go out until March, but state and local agencies are trying to spread the word of its importance now.

In 2010 about 73 percent of Alabama residents completed the census form. Although that was an increase from the 68 percent in 2000, the census bureau estimates more than 100,000 people weren't counted and that had a big impact over the past decade.

The census numbers will determine how much federal money the state will get for roads, Medicaid, Medicare and much more. But it also determines Alabama’s representation in Congress.

Right now Alabama is at risk of losing a congressional seat, based on early estimates. And Alabama is the only state in the south in that position. Make no mistake, Alabama is growing, but other states are growing at a faster rate and have higher census participation.

That’s why local and state leaders are doing everything they can to get the word out so Alabama doesn’t get left behind. We talked to the Senior Vice President of government and public affairs for the Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce and he says if you are a legal U.S. citizen, you still need to report you are living in Alabama on the census and that you can not get in trouble for it.

Ward says he fears some people won’t participate because they’re wary of giving the government too much information.

“I think there's a natural suspicion of government and a reluctance to try and engage with big brother sometimes. We need to make sure people are comfortable and aware of the fact this information can't be used in any way against them to harm them or to hurt them. Employers have announced plans to grow here. Those plans are firm, I think what you have to worry about getting all the funding you need to support the growth. So the growth is going to come, it's just a matter of are we getting what we need in order to sustain it,” Ward said.

Ward also says 2020 will be the first time you can complete your census using your smartphone or computer, but you can request a paper copy if you choose.

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