Get counted

To the editor: The League of Women Voters of Alaska encourages all residents of Alaska to make sure that they are counted in the 2020 Census.

An accurate count is necessary for Alaska to receive its fair share of $675 billion in federal funding. Alaska depends upon federal funding to balance its budget, and currently that funding makes up 21.8% of the Alaska gross domestic product. This funding is used to build and repair infrastructure, support health, education, and nutrition services, fund public safety efforts and many other important government activities.

In addition, an accurate count helps ensure an accurate redistricting of Alaska’s political districts. House districts are established by dividing the state’s population, as determined by the decennial census, by 40, so that they each comprise approximately an equal number of residents. If some areas of the state are undercounted, then districts in those areas might be lost due to this undercounting and residents left under-represented.

Census 2020 officially began on Jan. 21 in Toksook Bay, Alaska. Toksook Bay represents the unique challenge of counting residents in a state with no road system outside major cities, where there are many cultures and languages and a unique geography separating far-flung communities. April 1 is Census Day, and by this time everyone should have received an invitation via mail or hand-delivered by a Census Bureau worker to be counted in the census. There are three ways to respond: online, by mail and by phone.

All residents of Alaska should be aware of the importance of this census and reach out to others who may be struggling or confused about the process. You can learn more at these websites: alaskacounts.org, 2020census.gov and thecensusproject.org.

Make it one of your top priorities to assist those who need help to be counted, from the newborn to the eldest, regardless of length of residency. The census is a process that occurs once every 10 years, but it affects us for the 10 years in between. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors and loved ones to get it right.

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