Statement from Eric Holder on the Census Bureau’s Delay in Releasing Redistricting Data
Washington, D.C. — Following the Census Bureau’s announcement that redistricting data will be made available to the states by September 30. Eric H. Holder, Jr., the 82nd Attorney General of the United States and Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, released the following statement:
“Although the Census Bureau’s new timeline for releasing redistricting data will pose challenges, states should now begin taking steps to ensure they conduct a transparent and fair redistricting process. No state should use this new timeline as a pretext to hold 2022 elections on old maps because they think it would be politically advantageous or as an excuse for drawing maps in secret with no public input. I will oppose any such efforts.
“While this delay is unfortunate, it is important to keep in mind that the career officials at the Census Bureau had to conduct the count in the midst of a punishing pandemic with political leadership that never fully supported their mission. Now that they have set this new deadline, the most important thing the Census Bureau can do is to spend this additional time using every resource available to them to make the count as accurate as possible. I am confident that they can do so.”
While this new timeline will certainly condense the time states will have to execute the redistricting process, the Census was conducted under the duress of a pandemic and it is important that the Census Bureau take the time they need to clean the data and ensure a count that is as fair and accurate as possible.
To mitigate the disruption to the redistricting process that these delays will cause, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee is encouraging map-drawers to hold to the following principles:
- New maps must be in place before the 2022 elections for both state legislative and congressional districts. The delayed release of data should not be used as a pretext for holding another set of elections on maps that may be politically advantageous because of how they were drawn in the previous redistricting cycle.
- States must prioritize transparency during the redistricting process. Although the delayed release of redistricting data will create a condensed timeline for many states to draw new maps, that is not an excuse to cut public input from the process. With a shorter timeline, it is critical that the redistricting process in each state is as transparent as possible, ensuring that politicians do not rush through gerrymandered districts under the guise of expediency. Map drawers must take advantage of the widespread adoption of virtual meetings to conduct hearings that reach people in every part of their state.
- States must begin the redistricting process now to understand and address any adjustments to their deadlines and processes that will be necessary as a result of this timeline shift. States should not hesitate to identify how the delayed delivery of redistricting data will impact their redistricting obligations, and state officials should begin working diligently to develop solutions to mitigate that impact.
- To ensure that post-census elections can take place on new maps that do not violate the principle of “one person, one vote,” states should be wary of using primarily non-Census data for the purposes of redistricting.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or want to understand the state-specific impact this delay may have on redistricting.