Urban Institute chart based on analysis of return rates from 2010 Census
The 2020 census will be the first ever to rely primarily on digital response; that puts many areas with limited high-speed internet access, including rural ones, at a much higher risk of being undercounted. "As of 2017, more than 12 million people living in rural areas do not have access to broadband internet, according to estimates from the 2013–17 American Communities Survey. That total accounts for around 26 percent of the rural population," research associates Amanda Gold and Yipeng Su write for The Urban Institute.

Gold and Yipeng recommend that rural leaders take these steps to ensure a higher local count:
  • Become a census partner to help increase awareness of the importance of an accurate count. That means working with community leaders who can influence others, such as pastors or business owners. The Census Bureau has some tips for increasing community engagement in a Community Outreach Toolkit.
  • Use data to understand your community and how vulnerable it is to undercounting, including this interactive map of hard-to-count areas.
  • Provide safe, secure internet access in community spaces like libraries or post offices so people without home internet access can fill out the census.
  • Partner with schools and employers to reach hard-to-count populations so they can respond to the census on-site, possibly with translators.