Redistricting data: What to expect and when

Published on July 28, 2021

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Since releasing the apportionment results in April, the U.S. Census Bureau has had several teams working on the next set of 2020 Census data — the redistricting data. These data will begin to illuminate the changes to the local and demographic makeup of the nation over the last decade.

These data include the first sub-state population counts and demographic characteristics from the census, information that states typically use for redistricting — the process of redrawing electoral district boundaries based on where their populations have increased or decreased.

Although redistricting is a state function, the U.S. Census Bureau performs an important role in the process — providing quality data to the states from the census that states may choose to use in redistricting.

“As it does every decade, the census will reflect the demographic changes that have occurred over the span of 10 years,” said Ron Jarmin, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “Our results also will likely show some effects from the current pandemic. For example, some people relocated, and based on the 2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations, they may have been counted in a different place than they would have lived otherwise.”

Delays affect data delivery

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly delayed the schedule for collecting and processing the data for the 2020 Census.

“During data processing, we prioritized the work needed to deliver the constitutionally mandated apportionment results,” Jarmin said. “These delays pushed back our delivery of the redistricting data to the states. We understand these delays affect states that use our data, especially those under tight schedules for redistricting and upcoming elections.

“To provide some relief and to provide these data to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as soon as possible, we’re providing the same data in two releases. The first release by Aug. 16 is timelier in its delivery, and the second release by Sept. 30 is easier to use. Put another way, the redistricting data released in August and September contain the exact same information, but presented in different formats.”

The redistricting data include the first demographic and housing data from the 2020 Census that allow viewers to see demographic and population changes around the nation. The redistricting data will include:

  • Housing unit counts.
  • Occupancy status for housing units (occupied or vacant).
  • Population totals.
  • Population totals by race.
  • Population totals by race and Hispanic/Latino origin.
  • Voting-age population (age 18 and older) totals by race and Hispanic/Latino origin.
  • Population totals in group quarters by major type.
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Within each, the bureau will provide data for multiple geographies, such as:

  • Counties.
  • Townships.
  • Cities.
  • Voting districts.
  • School districts.
  • Tracts.
  • Census blocks.

Data users will be able to compare for themselves how the local and demographic 2020 Census counts compare against other population benchmarks, such as annual population estimates.

“Every way we’ve analyzed the 2020 Census — through our extensive reviews during data processing, by comparing the numbers to population benchmarks, and looking at the operations — the census data are high quality and are fit to use for redistricting. In fact, the quality of the 2020 Census data is quite remarkable amid all the challenges we faced last year,” Jarmin said.

 


 

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