A six-month delay holding up the data that states use to draw their legislative districts is mangling plans for the 2022 elections, as states discuss postponing primaries and navigating legal deadlines for redistricting that some are now almost certain to miss.
The Census Bureau announced in mid-February that redistricting data — the granular, block-level population counts that are used to draw equal-population political boundaries for state legislatures and the House of Representatives — would be released by Sept. 30 this year, well past the usual delivery date of March 31.
Many states are typically done with redistricting by then, not just starting it, and the delay puts states with early primaries and redistricting deadlines in a difficult position. At least nine states have constitutional or statutory deadlines to redraw their maps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that won’t mesh with such a profound delay in the data delivery. Election officials in some states, such as North Carolina, have recommended moving back early primary dates to make more time for drawing new districts. And both political parties will have to grapple with how to recruit candidates to run for districts that may not exist until just before election season begins.
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