U.S. Census Bureau Releases New Format of Data for a More Participatory Redistricting Process

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau will release population data from the 2020 Census in an easy-to-use format for Americans who want to advocate for fair maps in this year’s redistricting cycle. The new format of the data will be made available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and will be key to increasing participation in the ongoing redistricting efforts. On August 12, the Census Bureau released the same demographic information in a more raw format known as legacy data.

The new format includes a software tool that will make it easier to review the demographic data in a matter of minutes. The data released on August 12 in legacy format required users to import the data into a database and take additional technical steps to easily understand the data. The new format significantly reduces the barriers to participating in redistricting.

The new format will be available at data.census.gov, the Bureau’s new platform for access to its data and digital content. The platform allows users to search for information state, county, or place, and see an overview of that area in a geographic profile with visualizations and infographics.

By reducing the steps to view the data, more Michiganders can ensure our independent citizens commission draws fair district maps that benefit the community.

Over the last three months, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has held 16 open meetings in every corner of the Wolverine state to collect public comments on the maps should look like for our 13 congressional and 148 state legislature districts. Michiganders have shown they are excited about the first-time opportunity. More than 1,800 people attended these in-person hearings and more than 9,000 comments and maps have been submitted to the commission over the summer.

Statement of Quentin Turner, Common Cause Michigan Program Director

Redistricting is the most important voting and elections issue in Michigan this year. That’s why we need as many Michiganders to have a say in this important democratic process as possible. Today’s release of data in an easier-to-use format will help ensure that more of us can equitably participate in this year’s redistricting cycle.

Redistricting will determine the voting power of our neighborhoods, towns, and cities for the next ten years. That’s why it’s so important that we the people have a say in how our maps are drawn. When the people are involved, we can be sure that maps are drawn to benefit us, not the politicians.

But for too long, redistricting has been out of reach for many Michigan voters. Partisan politicians have kept much of the process behind closed doors in an attempt to silence us from speaking up for fair maps.

Our voices and our people power are the only things standing between partisan politicians and gerrymandered maps that carve up our communities and crush our voting power.

From school board to Congress, it’s critical that we hold our elected leaders accountable for drawing fair maps this redistricting cycle. Fair maps will mean we have the power to vote for better schools, a strong economy, and quality healthcare. Fair maps mean we the people can have equal say in the decisions our government makes that impact our communities, regardless of our political affiliation, the color of our skin, or where we live.

Redistricting is our chance to set the stage for free and fair elections and an accountable government for the next decade. Ten years ago, inventions like the iPad, the impossible burger, and self-driving cars didn’t exist. Since the last redistricting cycle, we elected two different U.S. Presidents from two different political parties, more than 23 Americans gained access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, and more women and people of color serve in Congress than at any other time in history.

Ten years is too long to sit out this redistricting cycle. We are grateful to all those who have already made their voices loud and clear and for fair redistricting. We encourage everyone in Michigan to join us in our call for fair maps today. If you care about having a say in your future, your family’s future, or your community’s future, we need you to participate in redistricting.

A strong and vibrant democracy is a participatory democracy, one in which we the people have the power to make political decisions. That power is stronger when we fight together.

We remain committed to our collective fight for fair maps and a participatory democracy that invites everyone to have a say in this process. We look forward to continuing our work with every community to make this one of the most participatory redistricting cycles in Michigan history.