Chambers County starts U.S. 2020 Census process

Published 6:16 pm Wednesday, July 24, 2019

LaFAYETTE — A group of Chambers County leaders met with federal and state representatives at the Chambers County Courthouse Wednesday in regards to the 2020 U.S. Census.

County leaders were invited by individuals involved in county government in hopes of getting people excited about filling out the 2020 census. The purpose of the meeting was also to create a Census Count Committee, which will help individuals throughout the county understand the importance of the U.S. Census and to facilitate the process of filling it out.

According to Cody Jones, partnership specialist with the U.S. Census, the old way of filling out the census by paper and pencil will mostly be gone this year. He said the target goal is to have about 90 percent of Americans fill out the census online.

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He said most homes will receive an invitation to fill out the census by letter between March 12 and 20. A majority of those homes will be asked to fill the form out on the internet, except for areas where they typically don’t receive mail at their home.

Homes can expect to receive a reminder letter the following week to fill out the census. Jones said if households haven’t responded by March 26, they will most likely receive a reminder postcard. If homes still haven’t filled out the survey, he said they will get a reminder letter and a paper questionnaire between April 8 and 16. Between April 20 and 27, there will be a final reminder postcard before the government follows up in person.

Dawn Landholm, principal planner with East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission, said Gov. Kay Ivey has been pushing the 2020 Census hard because the number of people living in the state determines funding levels.

“It is important that all people are counted so that Alabama gets its fair share of tax revenues and grants on the federal, state and local level,” Landholm said.

Additionally, Congressional seats are assigned by population and Alabama could be in danger of losing a seat if the 2020 count is low, she said.

Landholm said one of the barriers to having people respond to the census is the belief that people will face repercussions or lose benefits if they answer truthfully. She said this isn’t the case and information on the census can’t be shared with anybody else or any other agency for 72 years. She said violating this confidentially agreement results in potential prison time and hefty fines.

One of the most significant parts of Wednesday’s meeting was to inform the individuals in the courtroom about how to get started and to talk about who else should be involved. Landholm said it’s essential for all cities to work together to get the most done in the least amount of time.

“If you have everybody in the county working together instead of going off and doing their own thing, you have division of labor and people not duplicating efforts,” she said. “It just works better than a bunch of different groups doing the same thing.”