A group of 15 Republican governors sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo requesting the release of Census data to be sped up due to the burden the delay is causing on the redistricting process across the nation.
The group said the “ongoing delay in the release of 2020 Census redistricting data places our states in a nearly impossible situation to redraw lines prior to the 2022 election cycle.” Doing so, they ask for the data so they can start the redistricting as soon as possible, before the delayed release date in September.
In the letter, the group stated the “U.S. Constitution and state constitutions task state governments with redistricting their respective congressional and legislative districts in the year immediately following the decennial census.”
For the states to complete the redistricting, states have “historically received apportionment data in December of the year of the census and redistricting data in February or March of the following year.” That allows states to have time to perform the task of redistricting properly.
“As a departure from the traditional timeline, the Bureau released 2020 apportionment data in April 2021, nearly four months behind schedule, which should result in the delivery of 2020 redistricting data by June or July of this year,” the group continued to explain.
Due to the already delayed response, the governors’ “understanding [is] that the Bureau will not release redistricting data until on or about September 30, 2021, with a potential release of legacy data sometime in mid-to-late August.”
“Further delaying the release of redistricting data negatively impacts redistricting efforts nationwide, places state governments in an unnecessarily precarious position, and presents compounding delays in operations at every level of government,” the letter also stated.
They further explain the repercussions of delaying the release of the data:
Districts for the U.S. House of Representatives cannot be drawn until the data has been released. Districts for state legislatures also cannot be drawn until this data has been released. Districts for county, parish, township, and municipal governing bodies cannot be drawn until states have had the opportunity to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Lastly, districts for school district seats cannot be drawn until county, parish, township, and municipal governing bodies have had the opportunity to draw their own respective districts.
As a result of such negative impacts to our constitutional responsibilities, we seek the release of redistricting data as soon as possible—and in line with traditional timelines—so that states may begin to perform important redistricting tasks on behalf of our constituents.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the letter in addition to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Texas Gov. Abbott, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, South Carolina Henry McMaster, and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.