Dear Rural Round-Up Readers:

In lieu of our regular monthly compendium of events, trainings, grants, miscellaneous resources listings etc., we ask for your help to do three things today, and soon, so there will be rural events, trainings, grants, resources etc., to experience well into the future:

Three things to remember to do today and soon:

  1. Vote today in the Primary (and on November 3)
  2. Fill out 2020 Census for your household:
  3. Save the Postal Service

Read on for more detailed info!


— Your Rural Round-Up Editors

Stand Up & Be Counted in Many Ways!

We are offering a special issue of the MRP Rural Round-Up this month to concentrate on three incredibly important rights and responsibilities accorded to all Americans: voting, being counted in the U.S. Census, and being connected one to another through the U. S. Postal Service, which 124 years ago recognized the critical need for rural Americans to receive rural free delivery, which helped bring rural Americans into more communications equity with urban Americans.

All three institutions – voting rights, U.S. Census, and U.S. Postal Services — are key foundations, set out in the U.S. Constitution, to enable a flourishing democracy, and thereby a flourishing Rural America. To let any or all of them fritter away, to forget them and take them for granted, is to squander our own opportunities – and that of our children – for successful lives and livelihoods in this shared home we call the United States of America, and the closer shared home we call Minnesota.


Today, August 11, is Primary Voting Day in Minnesota. U.S. and Minnesota citizens have a responsibility to vote, and to be informed voters. So please exercise that right and responsibility. Do it for all the people who in war and in peace have fought for that essential expression of freedom and liberty as We the People of the United States. Consider that right, and be prepared to vote in the general election on November 3, too, especially as we reflect on and celebrate this month the 100th anniversary of American women being able to vote. How precious that right when we’ve worked so long and hard to achieve it!

Here are some Tools to Help You Vote:

  1. Register to Vote
    You can register on Election Day! And can register online at the MN Secretary of State’s website. You will need your Minnesota driver’s license or Minnesota identification card number, or the last four numbers of your Social Security number. Visit the site if you have questions for special circumstances such as: college student, in the military or living abroad, experiencing homeless and many more.
  2. Vote Early By Mail for the Nov 3 general election (or in person today or on Nov 3)
    A lot can happen in 2020 before Election Day – make sure you get your vote in the ballot box by voting early. You can vote by mail. You can track your vote. You can vote early in person (Sep 18 – Nov 2).
  3. View a Sample Ballot based on address:
    If the candidate provided a website for more info, you can click to it from here.
  4. Find your Polling Place
    If you want to vote in person, you can find your polling place online.

Tools to Encourage others to Vote:

  1. Voter Outreach Materials
    From voter applications you can print out to videos you can share online, there are a host of bipartisan tools.
  2. Why I Vote Video
    Share a video with someone who needs inspiration or record a video to inspire others.
  3. Voter 411
    Hosted by the League of Women Voters, this site provides answers to questions that may arise as during your voter experience.
  4. Become an Election Judge
    These are local, temporary paid positions that make a difference. And we need election judges more than ever this ever.


If you haven’t yet filled out your U.S. Census Form, please do that today, too. All residents of Minnesota –– all residents (not only U.S. citizens) — need to fill out the 2020 Census now. Being counted means you are helping ensure Minnesota keeps a congressional seat and your community and hundreds of others in Minnesota receive federal funding for the next 10 years.

The Trump Administration shortened the deadline to complete the Census count. We are running out of time to get a full and accurate census count. Rural people and places in the U.S. continue to be undercounted, along with other traditionally undercounted groups of people in this country.  Filling out Census forms are easy to do. You can start at this link:

Why does this matter?  The 2020 Census is the basis for the distribution of fair representation and funding for the next decade.  It is used not only to determine congressional apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives but also fair distribution of funding and assistance to state/local governments, generates essential data for critical business and economic development decisions, and guides nonprofits and foundations in ensuring wise investments of time, effort, and dollars that together build strong communities and a strong economy.  This includes health care, schools, and roads/infrastructure investments across the country, so needed in the rebuilding after COVID-19.

Let your Congresspeople know more time is needed to complete the 2020 Census, especially since COVID-19 has made it so difficult for the Non Response Follow Up (NFRU) to happen.

The headlines about census are often buried under the other urgent needs facing our country at this moment.   But this is a critical moment for an accurate count that will direct our country for the next decade.  The NRFU efforts will now last only two months, a period in which the 60% of Americans who have not yet self-responded must be enumerated (counted) by a door-to-door process, during a pandemic.

Minnesota leads the nation with a 72% self-response rate in completing the 2020 Census count. But that leaves nearly 30% still to be counted.  Northern Minnesota and much of rural Minnesota has lower response rates as do areas with historically undercounted communities:  communities of color, low-income areas, Native communities, immigrants, renters, young children, and college students.

The new deadline also shortens the time that the Census Bureau has to tabulate, process, and perform quality checks on the data before delivering the results to the president on December 31, 2020.    Shortened timelines could lead to an inaccurate and incomplete census, which guides our country for a decade.    Check out response rates for counties, congressional districts, cities, and census tracts

What can you do? 

Get out the count.  It is safe, easy, and critical that all persons be counted.   Use your trusted voice in your community.   Work with local Complete Count Committees, trusted partners in Historically Undercounted Communities and do outreach to college student organizations.  Find a Complete Count Committee here near you.

Tell your family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues to go to and respond online now.    COVID-19 has upturned all normal processes.  It’s time for extraordinary efforts.

And again, let your Congresspeople know that the extension of time is still needed to complete the Census, especially since COVID-19 has made it so difficult for the Non Response Follow Up (NFRU) to happen.


And last but not least: tell your Congresspeople that you support the U.S. Postal Service, which delivers democracy to your door and back: the U.S. Census forms and absentee ballots, and other important news and resources, no matter rain or shine, sleet or snow. Your ancestors worked for generations to get Rural Free Delivery – delivery to every home in rural America. Don’t take for granted that service we’ve had since 1896. Fight to keep it viable and thriving.

Current leaders in the U.S. Postal Service —  U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy specifically — have started to cut back services and staffing, which is resulting in a delay of mail delivery. Delays impede delivery of your absentee ballots or your Census forms, for example, or your critical business and personal mail. Delays curtail your ability to participate in our democracy.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress a key role in setting postal policy (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution) , and it has exercised that role in different ways over the years, especially in gaining home delivery for both urban and rural Americans.

In 1863, according to U.S. Postal Services history, under direction from Congress, “the Post Office Department authorized free home delivery in cities where the service was deemed cost effective — an enormously popular advancement.”

At that time, while the U.S. Civil War was raging, “the costs to the Post Office Department of delivering mail outside of cities was seen as too high. Instead, rural areas saw a wave of new post offices (so you had to travel many miles to a post office to get your mail), which increased from a total of about 29,000 in 1865 to more than 70,000 in 1895.”

Rural Americans clamored for home delivery and finally got it in 1896 when “Rural Free Delivery” was rolled out. To get RFD, 100 families along a proposed route had to sign a petition, which went to their member of Congress for approval and recommendation. This procedure cemented a strong bond between rural congresspeople and their constituents over local postal affairs, a relationship far stronger than that which prevailed in the cities, where delivery routes were coordinated without legislative intervention.

So contact your Congressperson and remind them of that strong relationship. Ask them to tell the Postmaster General not to mess with the U.S. Postal Service because he is messing with the U.S. Constitution, and with your opportunities to participate in our democracy.

You can also contact the U.S. Postmaster directly at: Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General of the United States, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, D.C. 20260-0004. Call him at 1-800-275-8777. Remember, he works for you!