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.