Terri Sewell reminds Alabamians the ‘dire’ costs of a census undercount

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Census bureau

Alabama’s 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell is urging Alabamians to complete their 2020 Census forms, while detailing the dire costs of an undercount particularly for her own district.

“This new report makes it clear: Ensuring that Alabama’s 7th Congressional District is counted during the 2020 Census is critical to the future of our community, from funding for education to roads, housing and so much more,” Sewell said. “Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has added additional challenges to securing an accurate 2020 Census count, especially given the fact that many parts of our district have limited access to reliable, high-speed internet.”

“However, the pandemic has also highlighted just how important each response is to our district. Every person who gets counted brings in $755 per person in federal funding for health care, and an undercount of just 1% would result in the loss of $5.2 million for our state,” Sewell continued. “To ensure that our community has the resources we need for the next decade, we must work together to make sure that every resident in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District counts.”

According to a new report prepared by the staff of the Committee on Oversight and Reform and Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Alabama’s 7th Congressional has the lowest response rate in the state, at just 49.4%. The district was also the lowest counted in in the state after the 2010 Census, with a 60.3% response rate as compared to 62.5% statewide. 

Statewide consequences

Data collected by the census is used to determine how much funding the state receives for critical services like education, medical care, foster care, roads, public transit, and job programs. Census data also helps local governments enhance public safety and prepare for emergencies. Alabama is also at risk of losing one of its seven congressional seats, limiting the state’s voice in Washington.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the 2010 Census potentially failed to count up to 101,800 Alabama residents. If the state experiences a similar undercount in 2020, the state could lose up to $1.6 billion in federal funding over the next decade.

Filling out the census

Alabamians can fill out their 2020 Census forms online at https://2020census.gov, by calling 844-330-2020, or by filling out the forms they received in the mail. 

The 2020 Census has only 12 questions, does not ask about citizenship and is completely confidential.