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Home Census takers on the way

In one week, U.S. Census takers will begin the task of going door-to-door to households who have not mailed back their Census forms.

In Covington County, 38 percent of the county’s 36,000-plus residents can expect to see a Census taker on their doorstep beginning May 1.

As of Friday, April 23, 2010, 62 percent of the county’s residents had already mailed in their Census forms – a figure that is nearly equal to the statewide participation level. Nationally, 71 percent of households have remitted their forms.

Local municipal participation ranges from 48 percent in Florala to 77 percent in Opp. In Babbie 72 percent of residents have complied, and in Andalusia, 71 percent of residents have participated. Those figures are followed by Sanford and Horn Hill at 67 percent; Onycha and Carolina at 63 percent; Red Level and River Falls at 55 percent; Libertyville at 54 percent; Gantt and Lockhart at 52 percent.

Carrie Doyle, regional Census office manager, said recently takers will use a list compiled of the names of those who have not submitted their forms to determine what homes to visit.

“We will have a listing of those who did not send in a form, and what happens is, your name will pop up, is put on a list and then a Census taker will come, knock on your door and fill out form with you,” she said. “And by law, participation is required.”

Doyle’s office covers 11 southeast Alabama counties, including Covington.

Census workers will be outfitted with an identification badge, a handheld device and a Census Bureau canvas bag and will provide residents with a confidentiality notice.

If no one answers at a particular residence, a census taker will visit a home up to three times and attempt to reach the household by phone three times. If no one is at home, the Census worker will leave a “Notice of Visit” card in the doorway that includes a phone number for the resident to schedule an appointment.

The Census taker will only ask the questions that appear on the census form, which is composed of 10 simple questions, including a person’s name, sex, age, date of birth, race, ownership of the home and relationship to others in the household.

Answering these questions ensures a complete count of the U.S. population, which in turn ensures that communities get the legislative representation and federal grant funding to which they are entitled.