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Data used for drawing districts to be released next week

By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press

After a delay of more than four months caused by the pandemic, data from the 2020 census used for drawing congressional and legislative districts will be released next week, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday.

The bureau will publicize the data next Thursday, Aug. 12, four days before it had promised in a court agreement with the state of Ohio.

The information was supposed to be released at the end of March but was pushed back to August to give bureau statisticians more time to crunch the numbers, which came in late because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The postponement sent states scrambling to change their redistricting deadlines.

Alabama and Ohio sued the Census Bureau in an effort to get the redistricting data released sooner. As part of a settlement agreement with Ohio, the Census Bureau promised to release the redistricting data no later than Aug. 16 — a date it had previously picked for releasing the numbers in an older format.

The data will be released in a newer format by the end of September.

The redistricting numbers will show where white, Asian, Black and Hispanic communities grew over the past decade. It also will show which areas have gotten older and the number of people living in dorms and nursing homes. The data will cover geographies as small as neighborhoods and as large as states.

Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, who co-chairs the redistricting committee, previously told Alabama Daily News that it will take up to five days to load the data into the computer system used to redraw districts. The committee plans to travel the state for a series of public hearings during the month of September.

“So you’re looking at late October or early November for a (special session on redistricting),” Pringle said. “That’s just being realistic.”

Lawmakers have an incentive to hurry: the lines they draw and eventually pass will make up the districts they campaign to represent in 2022.

“Imagine the state of Alabama is a puzzle made up of 252,000 pieces,” Pringle said. “That’s what redistricting is. We have about 252,000 census blocks we have to put together to draw all these districts and very little time to do it.”

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