Census data for apportionment won’t be ready until end of April
A Census Bureau official said Wednesday that the apportionment numbers used for congressional seats across states will not be available until the end of April after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the 2020 census.
Kathleen Styles, a top bureau official, said the data processing for apportionment numbers is projected to be done by April 30, The Associated Press reported, but a separate set of data used for redrawing districts for states and local governments likely won’t be ready until after July.
The results are typically turned in by the end of the year in which the census occurred; however, the AP noted that the coronavirus pandemic caused operations to be suspended, resulting in the government agency requesting the April deadline.
“This April 30 schedule reflects the Census Bureau going back in and producing a realistic schedule,” Styles said.
At the end of December, it was reported that the Census Bureau would be missing its Dec. 31 deadline for the first time since the date was set by Congress 40 years ago. Though the deadline is a legal requirement, there is no penalty for missing it, and historians have noted that the census operated without issue before the deadline was put in place.
The census experienced a wide array of issues this year, with reports that census workers were pressured to fill out as many forms as possible in order to meet deadlines. A lawsuit filed in October claimed that some census workers resorted to guessing how many people lived in some households. The suit claimed they did that in order to have the census completed while former President Trump was still in office.
Trump had also ordered undocumented immigrants to be excluded from the U.S. census, though a federal court blocked this move, stating it was unlawful, and President Biden reversed the order on his first day in office.
The AP noted that the delayed timeline could have a domino effect on states that have deadlines this year for redrawing their districts, pointing out that New Jersey and Virginia have upcoming elections.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated after clarification from a U.S. Census official.
Updated: Jan. 28, 12:32 p.m.