There's only three weeks left to answer one of the most important questionnaires of the decade, but more than 1 in 5 Alabamians have yet to do their part in completing it.
The deadline for the 2020 census is Sept. 30, just 21 days away. As of Tuesday, the self-response rate in Alabama was only 62.1%, with Limestone County lagging further behind at only 60.1%.
"I've said it since our March kickoff, and I will say it again: Alabama stands to lose too much if we do not reach our goal of maximum participation," Gov. Kay Ivey said. "This isn't just money for our state — it's money for our small communities, for our education systems, for our roads and for our children. There is simply too much community funding at stake here to disregard this final call."
Ivey's goal is to reach 80% or higher participation by the end of the month. In addition to self-response via online form, phone call or traditional paper form, door-to-door census takers have been visiting households in the state. With their help, the total number of households that have participated in the 2020 census has reached 78.5% as of Tuesday.
"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 look like, what our children's education will be and even what our health care can provide throughout the next decade."
Local leaders have consistently stressed that funding for infrastructure, education and health care, among other programs, will follow the numbers, not the need. In other words, simply needing a road paved, a new school built or better community services won't be enough if that community refuses to participate in the 2020 census.
"When this (pandemic) is over with, our community is going to need lots of help," Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly told The News Courier in April. "A lot of people are really struggling, financially and all, and this will help programs" that help them, he said.
To complete the census, visit my2020census.gov or call 1-844-330-2020. The questions focus on how many people were living in the household as of April 1. Residents will not have to provide personal information, such as any political affiliations, Social Security numbers or bank information.
They will also never be asked to provide proof of citizenship, money or donations. The information received by the U.S. Census Bureau through the questionnaire is kept strictly confidential under federal law.
Residents can even visit 2020census.gov/en/about-questions.html to review each question on the form before they fill it out. They can also use the links on the page to learn how their information is protected, why those questions are asked and why it is so important that they complete the questionnaire.