Census data delay throws redistricting timeline off course – Sentinel and Enterprise

The U.S. Census Bureau now plans to deliver redistricting data to states by Sept. 30, instead of by March 31, throwing a major wrench into efforts by state legislatures to redraw Congressional and legislative districts this year as is required every 10 years.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced its decision Friday, citing delays related to COVID-19 and prioritization of the delivery of state population counts for apportionment to the president by April 30.

Apportionment is the process of dividing the 435 seats in the U.S. House among the 50 states. Redrawing the boundaries of districts to reflect population shifts is a job the Massachusetts Legislature faces pressure to complete in time for the 2022 elections.

News of the six-month delay hit hours after state Sen. Will Brownsberger, D-Belmont, and state Rep. Michael Moran, D-Brighton, were appointed to lead redistricting work on the part of each branch. Moran, named by new House Speaker Ronald Mariano, succeeds former House Redistricting Chair Paul Mark, D-Peru. Mariano also named Rep. Dan Hunt, D-Dorchester, to chair a new House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight, which will assist the House’s redistricting panel.

Secretary of State William Galvin, the state’s liaison to the Census, said through a spokeswoman that the data delay “will have a major impact on the timing of redistricting at the federal, state, and local levels. … If that is the price we have to pay for accuracy, however, then we believe it is worth it,” she said.

The new schedule constrains efforts by municipalities and Galvin’s office to adjust the boundaries of precincts, which are redistricting building blocks.

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“I think that’s going to be the biggest barrier to us moving forward,” Brownsberger said. “We’re going to have to have some conversations about how to make that work in an expedited way.”

“We have a pretty good idea of what the district changes are going to be so I think we can have a conversation about what things are most likely going to be and then when the real data comes out late in September we’ll be in a position to move forward quickly,” Brownsberger said.


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