Fill out the forms, be counted

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It is amazing to us that folks will blindly feed their credit card numbers, debit card numbers or checking account numbers into a computers, trusting perfect strangers with valuable information which, if misused could cost them untold grief.

Yet some among us don’t want the government to know how many people live in their homes and how many bathrooms that home has.

We’re talking, of course, about the 2010 Census. Covington County residents who have not yet received their Census forms should receive them in the mail or have them hand-delivered to their homes this week, said Dr. Darryl Lee, U.S. Census partnership coordinator for Alabama and Northern Florida.

And it is critically important to our cities, county and our state that we take the time to complete these forms.

The information collected in the coming months will affect us for the next 10 years. If local residents are “undercounted” – that is, if we don’t complete our Census forms – it means Andalusia, Opp, Florala, Covington County and Alabama likely won’t get its fair shares of grant funding.

Choosing not to participate because you have some silly notion that the government doesn’t need to know if you have one or two bathrooms could affect the district lines drawn for elections; funding for senior citizen centers; funding for roads and bridges; and many, many other projects.

Federal law requires that specific information collected during the Census must be kept private for 72 years.

It is so critically important to our community that the data be reported correctly that Andalusia’s mayor is considering some type of incentive to get people to respond.

“I’m thinking we might do something like waive the garbage fees for a month in the district that had the largest increase in participation,” Earl Johnson told the council Tuesday. “Whatever the final Census numbers show is the number we’re stuck with for 10 years. I’ve heard some talk in the community and in the blogospheres about this being an invasion of privacy. This was established by Congress a long time before that became a concern.”

Fill out the forms and send them in. The results are critical to our community.