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Redistricting data to arrive at Georgia’s Capitol by Aug. 16; final town hall is Friday

By David Pendered

The Census confirmed Wednesday it expects to provide to states by Aug. 16 all the information states need to start the redistricting process, which is the creation of boundaries for posts ranging from U.S. House to city councils and school boards.

Georgia will have 14 congressional districts for the next decade, as it does now. The state Legislature will draw new boundaries based on Census population reports to arrive by Aug. 16. Credit: legis.ga.gov

Meanwhile, Friday in Atlanta the final town hall that’s scheduled on redistricting is set for 5 p.m. at the Capitol, before the Joint Meeting of Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting and House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committees.

Gov. Brian Kemp has yet to set a date for the special session of the Legislature to establish and vote on new districts. The expectation that the call for a redistricting session may be for October is based on the notion that Census data won’t be available before late September.

However, the data to be released by the third Monday in August will provide everything states need to start the process, a top Census official said in a video embedded in a statement released Wednesday. The information to be released in a legacy format used by states for decades.

According to Nicholas Jones, director and senior advisor of Race and Ethnic Research and Outreach, in the Census Bureau’s Population Division:

Nicholas Jones

  • “This is meant for experienced data users who are familiar with working with large data sets. We’ll post these large files on our FTP site. That format should work for most states to start their redistricting efforts. And for other data users who are familiar with working with data bases, to make it easier for everyone else, we’ll also have additional materials to help you pull out the highlights for the nation and for your state.”

A “how to” video guide showing how to download and extract data in this format was released Wednesday. The statement notes:

The identical data is to be released by Sept. 30 in a different format. This format is more user-friendly than the legacy format, Jones said in the video:

The Census has released a user guide to help state’s prepare to use the population data to be released by Aug. 16. Credit: census.gov

  • “We’ll release the exact same data, but in far more user friendly formats that people are familiar with and that allow for easier searching. We’ll officially send the redistricting data via DVDs and flash drives to state officials, with toolkits and software that help them to easily view and extract the data they need. At the same time, data will also be made available on data.census.gov, our publically available data search engine.”

The two release dates result from complications related to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a July 28 statement from Ron Jarmin, acting director of the Census.

The Census is required to put a priority on delivering to the president a state-by-state population count. That report is due by Dec. 31 of the year of the Census count. The bureau missed that deadline and presented its report April 26 to President Biden, who delivered it to Congress.

Once that task was complete, the Census turned to crunching numbers to the granular level necessary for establishing districts intended to provide equal political representation.

Note to readers: Information on Georgia’s redistricting process is available here, at the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office. The page includes an array of information, resources and contact information for elected officials.

 

 

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David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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