As COVID-19 Delays Census, Fmr Gov Schwarzenegger, Common Cause and League of Women Voters CA Urge Extending Redistricting Deadlines

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LOS ANGELES – June 15, 2020. Redistricting advocates urged the California Supreme Court to step in and preserve the state’s independent redistricting process which creates new voting districts for the next decade. The extraordinary pandemic circumstances and delays in the 2020 Census mean that California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission cannot meet its current deadline to draw new voting maps. 

California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of California and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger submitted an amicus letter in support of the California Legislature’s petition to the Court to postpone redistricting deadlines. 

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is charged with drawing U.S. House of Representatives, state legislative, and Board of Equalization districts using census population data once per decade. The deadline for adoption of the next decennial maps is August 15, 2021. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Census Bureau’s 2020 operations have been delayed, and the Bureau has asked for a four-month extension of the deadline for delivering population data to the states to July 31, 2021. 

Under normal circumstances, the Commission would have four and half months to draw voting maps. The redistricting advocates support extending the redistricting map deadline to December 15, 2021, which would preserve the critical four and a half months for line drawing allowed in the CA Constitution from the census data release.

California is the first state to take steps to extend redistricting deadlines due to the Census delay. The delayed delivery of population data is likely to impact 17 states with mandates under state law to complete redistricting either before July 31, too soon after July 31 to realistically complete redistricting, or by the end of the state’s first post-census legislative session.

Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP are representing the redistricting advocates pro bono.

Statement of Kathay Feng, Director of Redistricting & Representation, Common Cause
“The people of California voted twice to create a new people-centered redistricting process that puts a premium on transparency and public input. CA Common Cause cannot allow the census delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to jeopardize our public redistricting process. If the CA Supreme Court does not extend the deadline, redistricting will have to be completed in two weeks – that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Statement of Carol Moon Goldberg, President of League of Women Voters of CA
“The League supports the Legislature’s extension request because it is a common sense and nonpartisan response to the delay in gathering and reporting census data caused by COVID-19 public health crisis. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission simply cannot create well-considered, fairly-drawn maps within two weeks of receiving census data. We urge the Court to extend the deadline to ensure that the Commission has the proper time to fulfill its function in the way intended by California voters when the Commission was first created.”

Read the amicus letter online here.