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Redistricting Timeline Alert Map

A New Tool for the 2021 Cycle

Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it would release redistricting data to all states by September 30, 2021, a six-month delay. At the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, we have created a new tool to highlight the impact of the delay on congressional and state legislative redistricting in all fifty states. The delay creates unprecedented pressure on state legislatures and commissions as they try to complete redistricting in time for the 2022 elections. Our Timeline Alert Map shows which states need urgent attention and intervention.
The delay is meant to give the Bureau more time for data processing to fix the irregularities in the Census count caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The new date is six months later than the Bureau’s statutory deadline, and two months later than the original extension requested last April. However, the delayed data release raises significant concerns for states entering the 2021 redistricting cycle.

We have compiled all redistricting deadlines, specifying whether they are constitutional, statutory, or approximated with candidate-filing deadlines. Where possible, we have also listed actions that have been proposed within the state to address the delay, with links to local news sources for additional information. 

We designed our tool as an alert system, indicating which states have major conflicts that require intervention, and which states should experience little to no procedural impact from the census delay. We designated five alert levels: (1) severe, for impossible constitutional deadlines; (2) high, for impossible non-constitutional deadlines; (3) elevated, for other significant concerns, such as the possibility of delayed primaries; (4) guarded, for moderate concerns, such as the need for a special session; and (5) low, for no immediate concerns.

Our Timeline Alert Map can be used to identify broad trends, and the state-specific pages offer further granularity on particular states. For example, there are eleven states marked as “severe” for state legislative redistricting, meaning that they have deadlines written into their state constitutions that come before September 30, 2021. These eleven states have shown different responses to the census delay: lawmakers in Oregon are discussing a wide range of possible actions, from seeking a court extension to drawing maps with alternative data sources. Meanwhile, state staffers in Iowa currently have no stated plan for how to proceed.

The census delay creates an unprecedented situation that could impede fair representation in 2021 and 2022. However, there may be a silver lining: the delay leaves more time for public input before data is released, and for the development of rapid-response capabilities. Keeping track of deadlines will be essential for citizens to testify to state legislatures and commissions, and for advocates to score and evaluate draft plans. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project will continue to update the Redistricting Timeline Alert Map to keep voters aware of evolving schedules and new developments around the country. We recommend that the public continue to check back with the tool to stay fully engaged in the 2021 redistricting cycle.

The Electoral Innovation Lab focuses on the science behind democracy reform—including work that promotes fair redistricting, helps reform partisan primaries, and supports making the voting process more voter-centric. Drawing on resources from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, Princeton Election Consortium, and the Open Primaries Education Fund, the Lab uses data science, math, law, and public policy to produce empirical research, promote analytical tools, and host cross-discipline conversations to illuminate practical and innovative approaches to political reform. Specific project areas include technical and scholarly electoral reform research, state redistricting guides and electoral commission training guides, technical and legal analysis of legislative reform proposals, electoral issues and trend reports, data tools for electoral researchers, expert testimony, and advisory support. 

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