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 local level data will be shared with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and will kickstart the 2021 redistricting cycle.
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 data release provides the first detailed look in ten years at the demographic characteristics of communities. The data includes the breakdown of race and ethnicity, voting-age population, occupied and vacant housing units, and people living in group quarters, such as nursing homes, prisons, military barracks, and college dorms, of the nation’s communities by state, city, and county.
The U.S. Census Bureau delivered the data in a technical 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.
While the data release is the beginning of the 2021 redistricting process, it is also the culmination of the 2020 Census count, the national effort to count every single person living in the United States, which takes place once every ten years. From April 1 to October 15, 2020, states and localities encouraged all residents to be counted to secure a complete and accurate count of the American people.
Statement from Kathay Feng, National Common Cause Redistricting Director
The Census data release is one of the most important days for American democracy. With this information, states and localities can begin the redistricting process that will shape our elections for the next ten years.
The Census data will provide the information our communities need to draw fair maps and ensure everyone is represented in our government.
Each year following the decennial census, people from all backgrounds come together to build a government of the people, by the people, and for the people Together, communities participate in redistricting to ensure we have a government that works for all of us and represents all of us—not just the special interests, wealthy, and well-connected.
When redistricting is fair, transparent, and includes everyone, we can draw fair maps to secure free, fair, and responsive elections for the next ten years. 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.
Fair maps will ensure that elected representatives are responsive to communities – securing the resources our communities need for stronger schools, better roads and transportation, and affordable healthcare. Over the next several weeks and months, people from across the country will participate in redistricting to ensure we have free and fair elections for the next ten years.
We encourage everyone to make their voice heard for fair maps this year. Our democracy belongs to all of us and we must ensure everyone has representation and a voice in our government.
Yet, we still do not have national redistricting reform. That’s why we will continue to advocate for Congress to pass the For The People Act, legislation that will end partisan and racial gerrymandering that restricts our communities’ power and voice.
In the weeks and months ahead, Common Cause will continue working in partnership with state and local leaders to ensure we have a democracy where everyone participates, every vote is counted, and everyone’s voice is heard for the next decade.