The 2020 U.S. census is only months away, and Congressman Robert Aderholt said as the once-a-decade population count approaches, Alabama would deploy a multimillion-dollar effort to make certain its count is correct to ensure the state doesn’t lose federal funding and congressional seats determined by census data.
“It’s the time when we do a snapshot of who is living in this country,” Aderholt said.
After the census is taken, he said there would be a reapportionment of members of congress for each of the states. Currently, the U.S. is capped at 435 members of the House of Representatives. It doesn’t matter how many people live in the U.S., the congressional seats are divided up by each state’s population.
Since the 1960s, Aderholt said Alabama has successfully kept seven congressional districts, which gives the state seven members of congress. He said “preliminary numbers” have shown Alabama could lose a congressional seat after the next census.
“There’s a possibility that they think we’re on the bubble,” he said. “It’s not that Alabama is losing population. And right the contrary, we’re gaining population. What we have to compete with is the other states that are also gaining in population. We have to stay within the same amount of increase in population as they are to maintain our seven congressional districts.”
According to Aderholt, Gov. Kay Ivey has been “very active on” in making sure Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), which is in charge of making sure the census takes place efficiently, is doing its job. He said he had the Director of the U.S. Census come to Alabama and meet with the state’s elected officials to discuss the importance of the census’ role in maintaining seven congressional districts.
“Some people have already written it off as we will lose the congressional seat,” he said. “I’m not of that mindset. I think because of all of the manufacturing jobs, especially with cars in the Huntsville area, we’re getting an influx of jobs and people coming to this state. So, I’m very optimistic, but it’s one of those things that we have to be counted.”
Not only is it important to keep seven members of congress, but Aderholt said the census determines how many federal dollars get returned to the State of Alabama. He said Alabama receives approximately $1,500 – $1,600 per person from the federal government from the taxes paid. For every person that’s not counted, he said those funds would go somewhere else.
“Every living, breathing person in the State of Alabama should be counted,” he said. “It’s not just somebody who resides here. If they are living here even on a temporary basis, then they should be counted as a citizen of the State of Alabama for the purposes of the census. And, that will actually include anybody legally or illegally that’s here.”
The purpose of the census is not for citizenship, he said it’s to find out who is living in Alabama “during this snapshot of history in 2020.” Even if there’s a foreign exchange student, he said they should be counted for the census.
“I sort of joked the other day that we’ve got to count everybody to make sure this census works, and the only people that we probably won’t count is probably somebody driving through from Kentucky that’s stopped to get gas,” he said. “We might not count them. But short of that, if you’re living and breathing in the State of Alabama come next April 2020, you need to be counted.”