On Thursday, the Census Bureau will release the data used to draw congressional and state legislative district lines, kicking off a nationwide scramble to draw new lines in time for next year’s midterm elections.
The data, which is based on a once-a-decade survey conducted last year, is expected to show that minorities have been the sole drivers of population growth in the United States over the last decade. It will show how the racial makeup and voting-age populations have changed over the last ten years on a neighborhood level.
It arrives more than four months late, after some states’ deadlines for implementing new maps have already passed.
“What we’re expecting with the delay is that a number of states are going to run into issues with deadlines that they have for the redistricting process,” said Adam Podowitz-Thomas, the senior legal strategist for the Princeton Gerrymandering Project and the Princeton Electoral Innovation Lab.
Some states are approaching or have already missed constitutional or statutory deadlines, which were set in the hopes that the Census Bureau would deliver the necessary data on time.
Independent panels in Colorado have already produced draft maps, which will be finalized by October 1. Iowa and Ohio, for example, have even less time than the rest of the country. Many state legislatures will need to hold special sessions focused on redistricting this fall, a task that they would normally handle during their regular sessions in the spring.
Virginia and New Jersey, which are holding state legislative elections in November, are using their current maps rather than the new ones that would have been in place by now.
Officials from the Census Bureau released data in April showing which states would gain and lose seats.
Texas gained two seats in the House, bringing its total to 38, second only to California’s 52. Florida, which will gain a seat, bringing its House total to 28, has the third-highest total. North Carolina, Oregon, Colorado, and Montana are all gaining seats in the House of Representatives.
Traditional battlegrounds Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, as well as Democratic strongholds California, New York, and Illinois, as well as West Virginia, each lost one seat.
The more detailed neighborhood-level data that legislatures and redistricting commissions require to draft maps with precise boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts will be released on Thursday.