Yesterday was a BIG day! The U.S. Census Bureau released the first set of data from the 2020 Census: state population counts that determine Congressional apportionment. The good news is that Massachusetts’ population grew to more than 7 million people, compared to 6.5 million in 2010, and we will hold on to all nine of our Congressional seats. This is only the second time in 50 years that we didn’t lose a seat, which is important for ensuring all residents have the representation and the voice in our democracy that they deserve.
So we know what you’re probably thinking: now that the Census data has been released, we can start redrawing the maps, right? Unfortunately, no. While yesterday’s data was important, we need more in depth demographic data about race, ethnicity, and more in order to redraw the maps. Typically, this data is released in April, but because of unprecedented challenges posed by the Trump administration, COVID-19 and severe weather events, it won’t be released until August and September. This means we have a historically short time period to redraw and approve the new maps before the state’s deadline of November 8, 2021.
Sounds scary, we know. But we can do this! This delay is critical for ensuring that the data is complete and accurate. The most important way for us to prepare to respond to this delay is for the public to be engaged in the process, starting right now!
If you live in the Fifth Congressional District, we encourage you to testify at the upcoming virtual public hearing on May 4th at 5 pm and share the story of your community – what locations, landmarks, and gathering places are most important to keep together? You can sign up to give live testimony here and submit written testimony through the Contact the Committee form on the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting website. The hearing will be livestreamed here.
If you don’t live in the Fifth Congressional District, be sure to sign up for updates from Drawing Democracy and we’ll let you know when there will be a public hearing in your community. In the meantime, you can write a letter to the editor encouraging your neighbors to engage with the process. Check out our LTE toolkit here.
Thank you for your continued support – let’s draw some fair maps!
Yesterday’s release of the apportionment data was part of a settlement reached in the case of National Urban League v. Raimondo. In addition, the Census Bureau agreed to have external experts perform quality checks on the data and to provide public briefings every two months on data quality. They also acknowledged that the citizenship data that the Trump administration compiled via administrative records is “statistically unfit for use for apportionment or redistricting purposes” and will not be used.
April 29, 2021: The League of Women Voters hosts their People Powered Fair Maps Day of Action, starting with a 10 am National Kick Off Pep Rally and finishing up with two webinars at 7 pm. You can register here for Redistricting: Then and Now, featuring former Senate President Stan Rosenberg and current House Redistricting Chair Rep. Michael Moran, hosted by the LWV Amherst or register for a primer on map-drawing from Rep. Paul Mark, former House Redistricting Chair, sponsored by LWV Franklin County, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 3, 2021: Motion for preliminary injunction hearing in Alabama v. Dep. of Commerce
May 4, 2021: Special Joint Committee on Redistricting hosts a virtual public hearing for residents of Massachusetts’ Fifth Congressional District
May 4, 2021: Census Bureau Data Summit: Census Builder for Small Business Retailers and Service Establishments
May 6, 2021: Census Bureau Data Summit: COVID-19 HUB Demographic and Economic Resources
June 15, 2021: Statutory deadline for new wards and precincts to be drawn in Massachusetts. Since wards and precincts are supposed to be based on redistricting data, we anticipate this deadline will be pushed back.
September 30, 2021: Projected deadline for delivery of detailed redistricting data to the states by the Census Bureau. The Bureau has stated that this data may be available as early as August 16, though if so, it would be in a less user-friendly format.
November 8, 2021: Deadline for Massachusetts State House candidates to begin residence in their district in order to qualify for the 2022 State House elections.