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Census delay is yet another hurdle to overcome

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021

* NPR

The 2020 census data needed for the redrawing of voting districts around the country are extremely delayed and now expected by Sept. 30. […]

Then, in a statement, the bureau said the timing shift allows it to “deliver complete and accurate redistricting data in a more timely fashion overall for the states,” which are expected to receive the information at the same time rather than on a rolling basis as after past head counts.

Dogged by the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump administration’s interference with the census schedule, the latest expected release date — six months past the March 31 legal deadline — could throw upcoming elections into chaos in states facing tight redistricting deadlines for Congress, as well as state and local offices.

In a press briefing Friday, James Whitehorne, the head of the bureau’s redistricting office, said that if the agency completes its quality reviews earlier than expected, it would release the redistricting data earlier. But Whitehorne also said: “We don’t anticipate finishing much before Sept. 30.”

* Wisconsin Examiner

The Census Bureau was scheduled to detail by the end of December 2020 how many congressional seats will go to each state. That announcement is six weeks late, and now isn’t expected until late April of this year.

So, while there’s time to draw congressional districts before candidate filing begins in late August, there will be no time to draw state legislative districts. Looks like a delay in the primary could be in the cards, although some sort of temporary workaround will have to be constructed to deal with the state constitution’s June 30th deadline to draw state legislative maps.

* Crain’s

Jim Lewis, a senior researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago who oversaw remap work at the Chicago Urban League on behalf of Black communities in the 1990s, said he’d be “surprised if leadership allowed the process to go to the commission.” A new map could be made with other census data, including from the American Community Survey. But that map could be “legally contested once the new block-level data is released in the fall.”

John Patterson, spokesperson for Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, said “we continue to monitor the situation.”

* Sun-Times

A spokesman for Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said the delay in the data is a “unique situation,” and the new House leader is “still assessing all options, but his goal remains making sure all communities get their due representation in Congress.” […]

At an unrelated news conference Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said his office is looking at how the state might “manage through that” delay.

“It’s obviously extraordinarily difficult,” the governor said. “It’s one thing when they said April, it’s another thing when they said September. It really creates a challenge for us all, but we’ll get through it, we’ll deal with it like we have all the other changes through COVID-19.”

* Related…

* NCSL: Searching for Silver Linings in Delayed Census Results

* NCSL: 5 Ways to Handle Census Delays and Redistricting Deadlines

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments »
  1. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 1:21 pm:

    === although some sort of temporary workaround will have to be constructed to deal with the state constitution’s June 30th deadline to draw state legislative maps.===

    This is the steak to the sizzle that could be the change in the primary.

    The workaround will interesting, to me, as both chambers are veto-proof, and that is significant, not because of a veto, its significant that super minority caucuses and how they may or may not make hay here.


  2. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 1:29 pm:

    NCSL laid out five paths for states in January:

    1) Judicial relief, California already did this
    2) changing deadlines, New Jersey already did this
    3) changing filing dates and primary dates
    4) redistricting with alternative data
    5) creating backup commissions (this is already the case constitutionally in Illinois)

    https://www.ncsl.org/research/redistricting/5-ways-to-handle-census-delays-and-redistricting-deadlines-magazine2021.aspx

    This problem is worse for states with elections in 2021, New Jersey and Virginia among them.


  3. - Southern Skeptic - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 1:35 pm:

    Regardless of who is drawing the maps, I don’t see how this happens without delaying the primaries since petitions would be in the street before the census data came in. It’s going to be super-interesting.


  4. - John Lopez - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 2:06 pm:

    === while there’s time to draw congressional districts before candidate filing begins in late August,===

    Petition circulation begins in late August for March 15, 2022. I think Rich meant late November petition filing, 11/22-11/29 for 3/15/22(?).

    Would love to see an Aug 16, 2022 primary.


  5. - Just Another Anon - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 2:12 pm:

    One way to resolve the issue would be to suspend rules which require residency in the district for all offices. That gets rid of the biggest hurdle with the maps and the primaries, but causes its own set of carpetbagging concerns and may cause issues with majority minority districts and representation making such a proposal subject to potential litigation.


  6. - John Lopez - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 2:15 pm:

    Hope county boards aren’t forgotten, as they need to redraw their boundaries too once census data published Sep 30.


  7. - Practical Politics - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 3:01 pm:

    Remember in the early 1990s when the Illinois Supreme Court had to step in and issued a series of supervisory orders that essentially held that everyone who had filed nominating petitions would be allowed to run in the primaries so long as their addresses were in the former and current districts? The new election maps were issued so late that all of the candidates were mixed up.


  8. - Norseman - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 3:28 pm:

    IL Constitution says in part

    (b) In the year following each Federal decennial census year, the General Assembly by law shall redistrict the Legislative Districts and the Representative Districts.

    If no redistricting plan becomes effective by June 30 ofthat year, …

    So what is stopping the GA from adopting maps during this year based upon available information and then adopting a revised map once the new data is released?


  9. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 3:30 pm:

    ===So what is stopping===

    Maybe the courts. It’s tricky, but I think doable.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 3:32 pm:

    === So what is stopping the GA from adopting maps during this year based upon available information and then adopting a revised map once the new data is released?===

    Been wondering that. That’s where the steak is to the sizzle, for me.

    Is this the avenue?


  11. - Just Me 2 - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 3:52 pm:

    Just to be clear: The June 30 deadline is for the General Assembly and Governor to create a new map. The deadline for the Redistricting Commission is August 10. The SOS does his magic trick by September 5, and the Commission gets a deadline of October 5. If we get data before October 5 it is *possible* there won’t be a Constitutional Crisis. If we get it after then we have a real problem.


  12. - Norseman - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 4:29 pm:

    === Maybe the courts. It’s tricky, but I think doable. ===

    Yep. Courts will be involved regardless. Maps are challenged for compliance with racial standards. The GOP argument here will be that the September data must be the data used for any map adopted in this year. I don’t think it’s a legitimate argument, but courts are courts.

    If a court throws out an interim map, the interesting question will be what remedy will it order.

    - Allow the GA to start over first?
    - Require the creation of the commission, 8 or 9?
    - Impose maps of its own based upon submissions?


  13. - TNR - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 4:37 pm:

    Just did some googling and found that the numbers in the 2009 co


  14. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 4:38 pm:

    ===Courts will be involved regardless. Maps are challenged for compliance with racial standards. The GOP argument here will be that the September data must be the data used for any map adopted in this year. I don’t think it’s a legitimate argument, but courts are courts.===

    The Voting Rights Act make maps really tough to look at as simple to the mapping… and honesty to the process without the compliance.

    How this is seen to move in a calendar, than to match the new census, if they go at this with a “placeholder” type of drawn map… the steak… but can that roll, and what noise will the super minority caucuses make?


  15. - TNR - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 4:41 pm:

    Just did some googling and found that the census bureau‘s 2009 annual community survey data tracked pretty well with the actual 2010 census. So maybe drawing the map with the 2019 community survey data and then cleaning it up with the actual 2020 data when it becomes available would work.

    https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2011/01/12/state-population-estimates-and-census-2010-counts-did-they-match/


  16. - Lake Effect - Tuesday, Feb 16, 21 @ 9:04 pm:

    Just another anon- residency isn’t required for first cycle after redistricting anyway.


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