Census residence rules mean formerly incarcerated Connecticut resident was counted in one town while registered to vote in another

by Zack Goldberg, July 12, 2016  

On July 17, 2015, Ms. Chandra Bozelko submitted a comment letter in response to the Census Bureau’s May 20, 2015 Federal Register Notice regarding the 2020 Decennial Census Residence Rule and Residence Situations.

Ms. Bozelko explained that she was formerly incarcerated at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut. Despite remaining registered to vote in her hometown of Orange, Connecticut, the Census Bureau’s residence rule counted her as a resident of the prison in Niantic.

Ms. Bozelko asserts that the Census Bureau’s practice of counting incarcerated persons as “residents” of their correctional facilities, instead of their hometowns, harms all of Connecticut’s communities – both those where prisons are located and the home communities that lose their residents to imprisonment. Ms. Bozelko explains: “counting [her] in one town when [she] was registered in another is a poor example of how we protect a citizen’s most treasured right.” Because “[t]he right to vote is sacred,” Ms. Bozelko urges the Census Bureau to count incarcerated persons as residents of their home addresses – and not as residents of their prisons’ addresses – in order to more accurately reflect the population of a given community.

Notwithstanding Ms. Bozelko’s experience and recommendation, the Census Bureau has proposed to maintain its policy of counting incarcerated individuals as residents of their prison facilities rather than their home communities.

To learn more about Ms. Bozelko’s leadership as a spokesperson for a Connecticut campaign to reform how incarcerated people are counted by the Census, click here. To read Ms. Bozelko’s recent op-ed on this issue, visit here.

Zack Goldberg, a 3L at Brooklyn Law School, is a 2016 summer intern at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.

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