Alabama citizens have been and continue to be encouraged by local and state government officials to help Alabama keep its funding and congressional representation.

There has been a recent push for census participation by state government officials, including Governor Kay Ivey.

During the Daleville City Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 16, Council member Jo Reese encouraged citizens to take part in the United States Census, which could affect Alabama’s congressional representation and federal funding.

“I just want to encourage everyone to participate in the census,” Reese said. “If you can volunteer your services, it’s a great way to get involved with the community. It (also) helps us financially as a state.”

The push for citizen participation is largely because of the effects of what the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs website says is “slowed population growth” for the state.

This means Alabama is in danger of losing federal funding and a seat in the United States House of Representatives, ADECA’s website states. Alabama currently has seven congressional seats.

With a reduced number of congressional seats, Alabama would have less power in Congress, and it also affects Alabama’s influence in the Electoral College, a key group in presidential elections.

"The Constitution mandates an apportionment of representatives among the states for the House of Representatives… based on the count," a pamphlet from the Atlanta Regional Office states. "Also, over $675 billion a year is distributed to state and local governments using Census numbers."

According to the Alabama page on census.gov, these funds support “local programs for schools, health care, community assistance, infrastructure and other important needs.”

During the 2015 fiscal year, Alabama received around $7.6 billion in federal funds for 16 large federal assistance programs based on data from the 2010 census according to a report from the George Washington Institute of Public Policy. Another report from this institution shows that Alabama received around $13 billion in federal funds during the 2016 fiscal year that are distributed through 55 programs.

Some of the programs that distribute these federal funds include Medicaid, Highway Planning and Construction, the National School Lunch Program, Special Education Grants (IDEA), State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Programs for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), Child Care and Development Fund-Entitlement and Foster Care (Title IV-E), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicare Part B, Title I Grants to local education agencies, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program, Head Start/Early Head Start and Health Center Programs (Community, Migrant, Homeless, Public Housing).

According to an interactive map on the Alabama census page, around 71 percent of Dale County households returned their 2010 census questionnaire. Low response to the census in Dale County ranges from 12-37 percent, according to a different map from the Atlanta Regional Office's geography department.

The map shows that around 48,000 people in Dale County live in approximately 19,000 households and around 1,200 people live in group quarters.

The interactive map shows that approximately 66 percent of Dale County’s population, based on 2010 census data, “lives in hard-to-count neighborhoods,” which are located in the areas with the lowest response in the 2010 census.

This could result in some groups of Dale County citizens from being missed in the 2020 census.

The census, itself, is a United States Constitution-mandated "head count" of citizens in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the island areas of the United States that occurs every 10 years, according to the Atlanta Regional Office of the United States Census Bureau.

The first census was conducted in 1790. The latest census was performed in 2010.

Previously, the census was conducted through a paper form mailed to an individual’s address or over the phone. In 2020, the census will also be available online.

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