OCTOBER 13, 2020, MALDEN, MA- Today, Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, led a letter co-signed by the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation demanding that U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham provide Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin access to localized data from the Nonresponse Followup Operation, which is critical to detecting undercounted areas before the 2020 Census count ends on October 31. The letter is co-signed by United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), William Keating (D-MA-09), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03). 

The letter follows an announcement made last week by Secretary Galvin that Massachusetts still has not received the localized data needed to verify the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent claims of widespread participation across the Commonwealth. In late September, the Census Bureau reported that 98.7% of Massachusetts residents had been counted for the 2020 Decennial Census, asserting that 29.8% of residents were counted through door-knocking efforts and that the remaining 68.8% of residents filled out forms on their own. To confirm these enumeration rates, Secretary Galvin has requested access to localized data, which would also help state officials and volunteers identify specific neighborhoods that need greater outreach. However, this request was denied by federal census officials who only provided general data on which towns are facing issues. 

“As members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, we find this news particularly distressing when there are a number of cities across the Commonwealth – including Brockton, Boston, Fall River, Lawrence, Lynn, New Bedford, and Worcester – with neighborhoods that still stand at risk of being undercounted,” the lawmakers wrote. “Undercounts in the 2020 Census would have profound and long-lasting consequences across the Commonwealth as our nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to outlining congressional districts, the decennial census is widely utilized in analyzing trends in health care, poverty, housing, race, and ethnicity. Lawmakers can properly target resources and funnel relief to communities with the greatest need only when everyone is counted. This is particularly true for vulnerable communities that have been historically underrepresented in the decennial census – such as minorities, students, seniors, and immigrants – and hit hardest by the pandemic.” 

Specifically, the lawmakers called on Secretary Ross and Director Dillingham to stop refusing Secretary Galvin’s requests and immediately provide Massachusetts with the localized data so the state can ensure an inclusive and complete census count.

The full text of the letter is available here.