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2020 Census Redistricting Data Now Available.

What If You Usually Receive Your Mail at a Post Office Box But Didn’t Get a Census Form?

March 29, 2010
Robert Groves

I’ve gotten some emails from residents who usually get their mail at a Post Office (P.O.) box and didn’t receive a form mailing to that box.

We don’t send census forms to P.O. boxes, so it’s actually normal for them not to receive a form in the mail at their P.O. box. The census is all about counting people where they live and sleep, so we must tie each form to a physical location. P.O. boxes are not tied to specific housing units, so we can’t use them to send the forms to specific housing units.

When there is a large number of households in an area getting mail at a Post Office, we use the so-called “Update/Leave” technique. In other words, if we can’t get them a form to their physical address by mail, we’ll deliver one or interview them in person.

When there are isolated cases receiving their mail at a Post Office (while the majority receive their mail at their address), we may not know a housing unit’s physical address is not their mailing address. This is despite our best efforts at cross-referencing our list with the Postal Service’s information we use. In these cases, if we send a form to the physical address, and the Post Office doesn’t recognize it as a mailing address, they will return that form to us as undeliverable. Then we automatically add them to the group of addresses that we will follow-up with beginning in May.

For civic-minded residents like the ones who have brought their situations to our attention, we know waiting for a census taker to arrive is a let down while the majority of the nation is given forms and asked to return them by mail. However, the important part is that these residents will still be counted.

If for some reason, residents feel like they are not being counted, they can call our telephone assistance numbers on April 12 or they can visit a Be Counted site to get a form. In any case, we will visit these households in person starting May 1, 2010, to make absolutely sure they’re counted.

Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to

Director Robert Groves

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