The first batch of 2020 Census data came out this week, with population counts and an announcement of the number of representatives each state will have for the next decade, but key block-by-block information for drawing new voting district maps will be delayed until the fall.
Good-government groups said that delay means it is as important as ever to get the public engaged in the redistricting process.
Beth Huang, executive director of Massachusetts Voter Table, a partner of the Drawing Democracy Coalition, said it’s really important the Census Bureau have the time and space to make sure data used to draw maps is as accurate as it can be.
In the meantime, she encouraged citizens and community groups to make their voices heard about what ties their communities together at upcoming public hearings.
“Is there a similar workplace? Is there a similar set of cultural holidays that people celebrate? Are there any socioeconomic factors that are similar for a community?” Huang suggested as questions to ask.
More than seven million people call Massachusetts home, according to the new data, a 7.4% increase from 2010, and the largest increase in the Northeast, which also means the Commonwealth will continue to have nine representatives in Congress.
Huang noted the Census Bureau is working hard to ensure an accurate and fair breakdown, in spite of former President Donald Trump’s attempts while in office to undermine the census, first by trying to add a question about citizenship, then by aiming to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count for apportionment, both of which ultimately failed.
She pointed out the districts drawn this year will be the foundation for elections for the next decade, and they need to ensure a one-person-one-vote system.
“We know that there are many historically marginalized populations that have not been represented authentically in the statehouse, in city halls and in Congress,” Huang asserted.
She added it’s an opportunity to make democracy more participatory by bringing as many people into the redistricting process as possible.