Congresswoman Martha Roby

Representing the 2nd District of Alabama

Roby: Alabama’s Rural Communities Must Be Accurately Counted in 2020 Census

April 30, 2019
Press Release

U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) today participated in a Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing where Dr. Steven Dillingham, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, testified about 2020 Census preparation.

During the hearing, Representative Roby highlighted the importance of an accurate 2020 Census both for congressional representation and federal dollars and asked Director Dillingham what actions the Census Bureau is taking to ensure that Alabama’s rural communities are accurately counted.

“The 2020 Census doesn’t just decide the number of congressional seats, it also decides the number of electoral college votes. Currently, Alabama is at nine, and that would potentially drop to eight. That is a big deal, and it is something Alabamians don’t want to see happen. The Census also dictates the amount of federal dollars that come into our state, specifically to hospitals, job training centers, schools, infrastructure, and other emergency services. Inaccurate or miscounted numbers mean we as a state are having to do more with less, and that cannot happen.

“How is the Census Bureau planning to use its resources to partner with state and community-based organizations to serve as trusted voices encouraging participation in the 2020 Census, especially in hard-to-count rural areas?”

The full text of Representative Roby’s remarks as prepared is below:

Gentlemen, thank you for making time this morning to come speak before our committee. We are almost exactly one year to date from next year’s Census. As I am sure you are aware, Alabama is a state that could potentially lose a congressional seat from the outcome of this census, and as you can see, you have two Alabamians up here before you this morning. 

I want to highlight the Census and its future outcome further. In the 2010 Census, Alabama did not do a great job of accounting for all its people, especially amongst children below the age of 6 and in rural communities. We must make sure that is not the case again in next year’s count. 

The 2020 Census doesn’t just decide the number of congressional seats, it also decides the number of electoral college votes. Currently, Alabama is at nine and potentially that would drop to eight. That is a big deal, and it is something we as Alabamians don’t want to see. 

Lastly, the Census dictates the amount of federal dollars that come into our state, specifically to hospitals, job training centers, schools, infrastructure, and other emergency services. Inaccurate or miscounted numbers, regardless of fault, mean we as a state are having to do more with less, and that cannot happen. 

So, as you know, several members on this Subcommittee, including the district I represent in Central and Southeast Alabama, represent very rural parts of our country. I know you understand the issues with testing and potential hurdles you must tackle to gather efficient information in rural areas.

We all know that the more discussion and leadership at all levels of government and communities can lead to better results.

How is the Census Bureau planning to use its resources to partner with state and community-based organizations in my state of Alabama that can serve as trusted voices to encourage participation in the 2020 Census, especially in hard-to-count rural communities? 

It’s my understanding that there will be a strong focus on advertising and use of social media platforms to get the word out regarding the Census. 

However, as I mentioned earlier, a large part of my district is very rural, and people may not have access to social media platforms and other advertising methods. 

What methods do you have built in to make sure these rural areas get the message, too, that may not have direct access to internet or social media platforms?

As you know, Alabama and other states in the Southeast have been beaten with hurricanes, tornados, and other powerful storms. There has been flooding throughout the Midwest and fires throughout California. What is the Census Bureau doing to make sure those displaced from natural disasters are being included in next year’s count?

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