You can choose method for Census response

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A spokesman for the state 2020 Census effort said Monday anyone can use any format to respond to the Census they wish, no matter what is suggested at first - and that if they don't respond soon, they will be getting a paper version anyway. 

Beginning on or around March 13, each Alabama household will receive a postcard from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions for how to complete the 2020 Census, the release noted. Alabamians may respond in three ways: online, telephone or traditional paper form.

Mike Presley, a spokesman for Count Alabama! in Montgomery, said some areas, such as Jasper and Haleyville, will be invited to use an online format first, while other areas will be invited to try a paper version first. Census officials indicate in Walker County, Jasper area residents will be invited first to use the online version, while the rest of the county will be invited to use a paper version.  The decision that this area will mostly get questionnaires was revealed recently by the U.S. Census through the online release of a "2020 Census Mail Contact Strategies viewer" on census.gov. 

"Our understanding is the areas with the focus on the paper (survey) will receive a letter the same time that the online will be mailed," he said. "They will be mailed the same time. The people in the paper areas will receive a paper form in that first mailing. It will say something like, 'Please fill out your Census form.' I think it will mention they can do it online or over the phone, but the paper form will be in there." 

Those in the online area can also use paper or phone if they wish, Presley said. "You do not have to do one version or the other. There is paper, online or you can do it over the phone. Any three of those options anyone can do regardless of what they get on the first mailing," he said.

If one in the online area has not responded by April, the Census Bureau will send out a paper form anyway, he said. "Everyone will eventually get a paper form if they haven't responded right at the beginning. The next step after that would be personal visits by Census workers.