Census participation, concerns sweep Alabama

2010 Census participation rates (Source: US Census Bureau)
2010 Census participation rates (Source: US Census Bureau)

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Weeks into the process, cities and towns continue their 2010 Census push.

Participation translates into dollar signs for state and local government.

The latest figures from the US Census Bureau show a stronger response rate in the tri-county area, but other places are struggling.

In many places, including Dallas, Butler, and Pike counties, only about half of the residents have responded.

Bullock County has the lowest response rate in the state with 29%.

County leaders say that's not necessarily the public's fault.

"60% to 80% of our citizens are not receiving [the forms]," explained Bullock County Commission chairman Ron Smith.

"So, how can you respond to something you haven't received?"

Smith says part of the problem is that many people use Post Office boxes.  The Census Bureau only mails forms to a physical address.

"No one told us that post office boxes weren't going to be counted," Smith said.

Right now, leaders say the only place to pick up a census form is at Union Springs City Hall.  However, they argue that travel is a hassle for residents who live out in the county.

"Although it's a central location in the county, I think it's unfair," Smith said.

Residents have heard about the problems.  Many, though, have already sent in their forms.

"A lot of people didn't get the form. I don't know why, but a lot of people tell me they didn't get them," said Willie Jernigan of Union Springs.

Still, county leaders want everyone to be counted.

"They understand that this means dollars, and dollars means service," Smith said.

If you still don't have a form, don't worry, another batch is headed across the country.  If you don't receive a form before April 12th, you can call the US Census Bureau and request one.

Their number is 1 (866) 872-6868.