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 by 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 Rhode Islanders can ensure our state legislators draw fair district maps that benefit the community.  

Ahead of the Reapportionment Commission’s first meeting on September 9, Common Cause Rhode Island and a broad coalition pressed the commission with a list of demands for fairness and transparency. To date, state leaders have not responded to their requests and no progress has been made.  

Today, September 16, the Commission will hold a meeting to review the population data from the 2020 Census where public testimony will be taken. This is the first opportunity to understand how to draw fair maps. 

Statement of John Marion, Common Cause Rhode Island Executive Director

Redistricting is the most important voting and elections issue in Rhode Island this year. That’s why we need as many Rhode Islanders 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 Rhode Islanders. 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 the General Assembly 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. 

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 Rhode Island 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 state history.