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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21)

February 12, 2020

Press Release

Lack of equipment and technical limitations could prevent rural Americans from participating

Rep. TJ Cox (CA-21) and Rep. Aumua Amata Radewagen (American Samoa-AL) have sent a letter to Dr. Steven Dillingham, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, asking the agency to share a detailed analysis of the Census Bureau’s technological capacity and possible issues with access. They are joined by a bipartisan group of 110+ cosigners in the House and Senator Kamala Harris

The Census uses Mobile Questionnaire Assistance Centers (MQACs) to bridge the gap in “hard to count” areas. These are vital for the 1 out of every 9 Americans who lack internet access. Currently the amount of MQACs stands at roughly 4,500 units. This number is insufficient to count hard to reach communities and will likely worsen a Census undercount as the bureau increases its focus on filling out the Census online. 

“As we prepare to count every American, we need the Census Bureau to assure us they have the functioning, tested technology needed to get the job done and not leave the Central Valley undercounted,” said Rep. Cox. “Low-income, rural communities of color are disproportionately impacted when the Census is harder to complete, as people in those communities are the most likely to access the Census on a public computer.”

“This letter raises important questions that apply to the people of the District I represent, who face a variety of economic and geographic challenges,” said Rep. Aumua Amata Radewagen. “It’s important for the Census Bureau to examine these factors, and I look forward to learning more about their preparations and testing to provide access. Thank you to Representative Cox for his leadership on this, and most importantly, I strongly encourage absolutely everyone to respond to the Census.”

The letter’s signers look forward to a prompt and complete response from the Census Bureau, quantifying this possible issue and its solution.