Albuquerque Journal

US House census data not ready until April

States’ data will likely not be available until some time after July


The U.S. Census Bureau aims to deliver the longdelaye­d numbers used to divvy up congressio­nal seats by the end of April, but a holdup on redistrict­ing data could disrupt several states’ abilities to redraw their legislativ­e maps ahead of upcoming elections, an agency official said Wednesday.

The new goal to complete data processing for the apportionm­ent numbers used for congressio­nal seats is now April 30. But separate data used to redraw districts for states and local government­s won’t be ready until after July in the most likely scenario, Kathleen Styles, a top bureau official, said at a presentati­on for the National Conference of State Legislatur­es.

The delay in the release of redistrict­ing data could be a problem for states with deadlines this year. New Jersey and Virginia also have elections this year.

“This is a subject of vigorous internal debate right now,” said Styles, who added the agency isn’t saying yet when the redistrict­ing data will be ready. “The worst thing we could do is deliver data that has question marks.”

New Jersey was prepared for this scenario, with voters last fall approving a constituti­onal amendment that would address late redistrict­ing data. The constituti­onal amendment keeps the current legislativ­e districts for this year’s gubernator­ial and legislativ­e elections, provided a redistrict­ing commission eventually redraws the districts by March 2022. New Jersey’s primary elections are in June.

Other states have already started working on backup plans, said Ben Williams, a redistrict­ing expert at the National Conference of State Legislatur­es.

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