Census 2020 has wrapped and under normal circumstances, the data used for redistricting would be released to the states and the public this spring. COVID-19 has caused significant delays, however, pushing out the delivery date of the statutorily required delivery of the PL 94-171 data to Sept. 30, 2021. This delay affects the usual 16-week timeframe that communities have to adjust their boundaries before local elections begin.
Census data is used to redraw federal, state and local legislative districts. This data is also used by state officials to realign congressional and state legislative districts in their states, taking into account population shifts since the 2010 Census. NC General Statute § 160A-23.1 requires jurisdictions using electoral districts to redraw their districts if new census numbers show the populations of their districts have become sufficiently imbalanced.
Redistricting maintains equal representation of every district by accounting for population shifts during the previous decade. If 2020 block data show that major population changes have occurred since the previous census, it is likely that district boundaries will need to be updated. Communities using electoral districts that fail to correct their imbalanced districts before the filing period will be in violation of the constitutional requirement of one person, one vote.
We understand that the 2021 municipal election cycle is in flux for communities that have electoral districts due to these delays, but Centralina is positioned to assist with this process once census 2020 data is available. Information on this issue is rapidly changing, so please keep this topic on your radar for updates over the next few months. Contact Regional Planning Director, Michelle Nance, at (704) 348-2709 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help.
North Carolina League of Municipalities: Redistricting and the Census Delay – What It Means for Municipal Elections (flyer)
The NC Board of Elections website notes that if changes are needed to the municipal districts and the data is not released in time, elections scheduled to take place in the fall of 2021 could be postponed until 2022.
Engaging Local Government Leaders: Redistricting – What You Need to Know
U.S. Census website: Timeline for Releasing Data