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State makes big push for 2020 Census

MONTGOMERY — More than 200 Alabama city leaders, county commissioners and others, including representatives from Chambers County, joined Gov. Kay Ivey last week as she officially kicked off a year-long effort to ensure Alabama reaches maximum participation in next year’s census.

The Alabama Counts event at the state Capitol was conducted one year in advance of the 2020 Census to bring awareness of the importance of the count. The program also served as an avenue to unveil the Alabama Count’s census logo, introduce the theme of “I Count” and launch the state’s census website, www.census.alabama.gov,  and social media accounts.

“There is much to lose with low participation,” Ivey said in a news release. “However, with high participation, there is so much to gain, and that is the message we have to hammer home in the next few months.”

Ivey said she was thankful for the presence of several Alabama officials who took the time to attend the kickoff event.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, a low count could result in Alabama losing federal funds relating to health care, education and roads and transportation, rural development and community programs. Many projections have Alabama at-risk of losing a Congressional seat to another state as a result of the census. 

Chambers County Commissioner Sam Bradford is one of the commissioners who traveled to Montgomery to attend the event. He said at the most recent Chambers County Commission meeting that there’s never been this much enthusiasm statewide to count people.

He said the commission will appoint a Census Counts Committee, involving all cities and towns, and several organizations throughout the Greater Valley Area.

Bradford said the paper ballots will be mailed in March, but the goal is to have high online participation for this census.

“The goal is to have 55 percent of people nationwide to complete the census online,” he said.

For every citizen counted in Alabama, it translates into $1,600 per year back to the state, Bradford said.

“For one reason there is such a big push this year … Alabama is very much on the bubble about losing a Congressman,” he said.

Members of the Alabama Counts 2020 Census Committee were also recognized by Ivey. The committee was created last summer by executive order under Ivey and is made up of an across-the-board representation of Alabama involving education, rural communities, faith-based organizations, business and industry, community-based groups, health care agencies and governments to reach all sectors of the state to encourage census participation.