Upstate New York Members Write To Census Bureau Director Outlining Potential Problems With Current Approach To Rural Areas

Many Rural Households Do Not Have At-Home Mail Delivery, Lack Access To Broadband And Cell Service; At Risk Of Being Missed By Census

As part of his work on behalf of rural communities, Rep. Anthony Brindisi led a bipartisan group of Upstate New York Congressional Representatives to urge the Census Bureau to take extra steps to ensure an accurate count in rural communities for the 2020 census.

In a bipartisan letter to Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham, Brindisi, along with Reps. Elise Stefanik, Tom Reed, John Katko, Antonio Delgado, Sean Patrick Maloney, Paul Tonko, Joseph Morelle, and Brian Higgins, outlined the potential problems with the Census Bureau’s approach to rural areas, especially in areas without at-home mail delivery.

“Many areas of our districts are entirely without at-home mail delivery, with local residents relying on a P.O. Box to receive all of their mail,” wrote Brindisi and his colleagues. “As you are certainly aware, it is the policy of the Census Bureau to only deliver census response forms to at-home mailing addresses and to exclude delivery to P.O. Boxes. This leaves thousands of our constituents at risk of not being counted if the Census Bureau does not devote adequate resources to reach these households.”

It is the procedure of the Census Bureau to send census takers to visit homes which do not submit the mailed response form or do not complete their forms online. Given that many of the areas without at-home mail delivery also do not have adequate internet access, these census takers may be the only way persons in rural communities can be counted in the 2020 census.

“The census is a constitutionally-required survey which is used to ensure full representation in government and to distribute public funds,” said Brindisi. “It impacts everything from housing assistance to tax credits. It is essential for Upstate New York for the census to collect accurate data about our population.”

“I appreciate the efforts of Congressman Brindisi and the bipartisan group of Upstate Representatives advocating for the Census Bureau to provide equal access for residents who choose to use PO Boxes for their mail,” said Michael Keville, Madison County Clerk. “I’m very concerned that the current practice will hinder an accurate count, which is vital for our area. The Census Bureau should send the same mailers to PO Boxes as they do to residential addresses so that all in our communities can be counted.”

Brindisi and his colleagues asked Director Dillingham to provide the following information:

  • What preparations is the Census Bureau undertaking to address the expected low response rate in rural areas with no at-home mail delivery?
  • What plan is in place to inform residents of rural areas how they can respond to the census, beyond replying to the mailed census form and responding online?
  • What additional resources is the Census Bureau devoting to rural areas to ensure an accurate count?
Lockwood Law


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here