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 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.
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.
In Pennsylvania, congressional district lines are drawn by the state Legislature, through a bill passed by both chambers of the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor. State legislative districts are drawn by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, established by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Statement from Common Cause Pennsylvania Executive Director Khalif Ali
Today’s release of redistricting data allows Pennsylvania legislators to begin the process of drawing new voting district maps that will shape our elections for the next ten years.
While this process has historically been conducted behind closed doors with little to no public input, 2021 is our year to flip the script and ensure that the voices of our communities, particularly those of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and other communities of color are at the center of the conversation.
Pennsylvania’s House Republicans have already announced transparency measures for congressional redistricting, and we commend them for their commitment to a transparent, accessible, and participatory process.
When redistricting is fair, transparent, and includes everyone, our maps are more likely to be representative and secure free, fair, and responsive elections for the next decade. That is why we continue to advocate for a process that prioritizes opportunities for meaningful public input, public access to the redistricting data used by mapmakers in Pennsylvania, and a mapmaking process conducted openly rather than behind closed doors.
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.
Read Recommendations for Drawing Congressional Districts: ‘Start From a Blank Map’ – testimony to the Pennsylvania House Committee on State Government here.
Read Common Cause Pennsylvania Urges Fair, Transparent Redistricting Process Centered on ‘We the People’ – testimony to the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission here.