Albuquerque Journal

US House census data not ready until April

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

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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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