Today, the U.S. Census Bureau will release demographic data from the 2020 Census that will paint a detailed picture of America’s diverse communities.
The data release provides the first detailed look in ten years at the demographic characteristics of communities. States and localities use the data to redraw federal, state, and local legislative district boundaries that will shape each state’s elections for the next decade. The process is meant to ensure that as populations grow and change, every American continues to have equal representation and equal voice in government.
The U.S. Census Bureau will deliver the data in a raw format, known as “legacy data,” which was used in the 2010 and 2000 Census. By September 30, the Census Bureau will make the data available online, in a more user-friendly format.
Maryland’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, created by Governor Larry Hogan, has already held meetings around the state to collect public comment about the redistricting process. Read more about the Citizens Commission here. The Maryland General Assembly has also created a Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission. Read more about the Legislative Commission here and here.
Statement from Common Cause Maryland Executive Director Joanne Antoine
Today’s release of redistricting data allows Maryland to begin the process of drawing new voting district maps that will shape our elections for the next ten years.
As the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission and Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission prepare to draw our district boundaries, we urge them to ensure the mapmaking process is fair, transparent, accessible, and inclusive – allowing for timely and meaningful public input throughout the entire process.
This means allowing for public comments, both written and oral, on draft and revised maps — at accessible hearings held throughout the entire state, with ample public notice. It also means early disclosure of criteria being used to draw the maps, consideration of maps being submitted by the public, and accessibility by livestream broadcasting as the maps are being drawn. Language access should be provided, for Marylanders whose first language is not English, as well as assistance for those with disabilities. Both Redistricting Commissions should meet these standards.
A participatory process is particularly crucial for historically disenfranchised communities throughout the state. The voices of our communities, especially those of Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and other communities of color must be at the center of the conversation.
We’ve spent the past decade dealing with the consequences of 2011’s gerrymandered map. Those drawing our maps now have an opportunity to improve public trust and overall confidence in our democracy by conducting a mapmaking process openly rather than behind closed doors.
When redistricting is fair, transparent, accessible, and inclusive, our maps are more likely to be representative and secure free, fair, and responsive elections for the next decade.
Fair maps mean the politicians must work to earn every vote in every corner of the district because we the people get to choose our elected representatives, not the other way around.