Census Data for Dividing Up House Seats Delayed Until April

The coronavirus pandemic is largely to blame for the hold-up.  

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(CN) — The U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that the release of 2020 census data used to allot U.S. congressional seats will be delayed by three more months.  

Kathleen Styles, a top bureau official, explained that the population numbers used to apportion each state’s share of votes in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College will not be released until April 30.

The numbers were supposed to be turned in by Dec. 31, but the deadline was upended for the first time since it was implemented by Congress more than four decades ago.

The agency asked Congress last April for a four-month extension after it became clear that the coronavirus pandemic would disrupt the census counting process. 

Although the Trump administration initially backed the request, the White House revoked its support in July and President Trump issued a directive in July to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from the numbers used for dividing up congressional seats.

The order was rescinded by President Joe Biden on his first day in office.

“This April 30 schedule reflects the Census Bureau going back in and producing a realistic schedule,” Styles, the agency’s chief of 2020 census communications and stakeholder relations, said Wednesday during a webinar organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

“I think the worst thing that we could do would be [to] deliver data that had question marks with it. We need to give you the best data that we can,” she added.  

Styles said it’s unlikely that the bureau will be finished processing redistricting data used for drawing state and local legislative districts before the end of July.  

The delay puts additional pressure on states that have deadlines quickly approaching for redrawing their districts, particularly New Jersey and Virginia, which have gubernatorial and state legislative elections scheduled this year. 

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