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COVID-19 Delays New Census Data

U.S. Census Bureau officials have once more pushed back the delivery date for data that will be used for redrawing congressional, state and local legislative districts to the end of September.

“The biggest reason? COVID-19. It’s something beyond the Census Bureau’s control,” said Kathleen Styles, the Census Bureau’s chief of Decennial Communications and Stakeholder Relations.

Among other changes, purportedly brought on during the pandemic, is that data is no longer being released to states on a flow basis. For some states, that data will come after their legal deadline to redraw districts. Lawmakers there will have to find a workaround.

Still, if bureaucrats everywhere can shake themselves out of the paralysis that comes from being asked to be flexible, the time crunch should be more a hiccup than a problem. Perhaps predicting the fit thrown by some officials, Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee Eric Holder said the new deadline should not be “a pretext to hold 2022 elections on old maps.”

A bipartisan group of senators has already introduced legislation to extend the deadline for turning in redistricting data to Sept. 30. For those used to operating under deadlines, that seems like plenty of time.

We can’t do anything about the havoc wrought on the census by COVID-19. Now, state officials must plan now to work as efficiently and fairly as possible to get the job done.

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