It seems as though census 2010 was just yesterday but with the New Year, the 2020 census timeline is upon us; the official Census Bureau 2020 Census Redistricting Data Program begins later this year. The program’s five phase process leads up to and dictates the operational schedule for delivering crucial population data that states use for redistricting. Here is a quick summary of those phases:
Block Boundary Suggestion Project
Beginning in the second half of 2015, participating states will appoint liaisons that will receive suggestions from state and local officials on how census block geography should look in their jurisdictions. Specifically, they will suggest to the Bureau what geographic features are best suited to serve as block boundaries. This is crucial since almost every voting precinct is built on a cluster of census blocks. Blocks that split jurisdictions or are otherwise juxtaposed inconveniently, make the redistricting process more difficult for states and local subdivisions.
Voting District Project
In late 2017 and 2018, participating states will receive tools needed to update the election/voting precincts in preparation for 2020. This is crucial because most states by law are required to freeze their precinct maps in the 2 years before the census takes place. This allows the Bureau to report its decennial census data on top of accurate geography.
Just before the general release of census 2020 population data for redistricting, the Bureau will ensure delivery to each state governor and legislative leader. States that participated in phase 2 will receive population data tabulated for election precincts as well as standard census tabulation areas such as census blocs, tracts cities and towns.
Post-Census Redistricting Plan Collection
The Bureau now collects newly drawn state legislative and congressional maps starting one year after the census and every 2 years up to the next scheduled census. Collection of this map data allows the Bureau to continually update the most current political maps with the most current census data.
Census 2020 Review
This final phase of the redistricting data program allows detailed input from the states and ends in a “thorough review of the program.”