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Earlier census data release won’t affect Arizona redistricting

By: - August 9, 2021 1:37 pm
arizona map redistricting

Photo by omersukrugoksu | iStock / Getty Images Plus

The U.S. Census Bureau will release the population data that states need for redistricting four days earlier than expected, but it won’t change the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission’s schedule for drawing new congressional and legislative maps.

The bureau announced last week that it will release the population data on Aug. 12, as opposed to Aug. 16, as previously scheduled. 

However, the change won’t make a difference for the AIRC, which recently adopted a schedule calling for the final approval of the new maps in late December.

“No difference. We’re doing our due diligence on our listening tour, and our schedule remains intact,” said Commissioner Erika Neuberg, the AIRC’s independent chair.

The commission is still in the midst of its 17-day, 15-stop “listening tour,” traveling the state to hear Arizonans’ thoughts and recommendations on what the new legislative and congressional districts should look like. The tour will take the commission to Safford on Friday evening and to Tucson on Saturday and Sunday before ending with a final meeting in Mesa on Monday.

The commission has been active for months, hiring staff and soliciting input from Arizonans. But the release of the census data has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the AIRC to begin its work later than its predecessor commissioners.

Once the AIRC obtains the new data, its first order of business will be to draw “grid maps” of equal population that don’t take into consideration any of the Arizona Constitution’s other redistricting criteria, such as respect for geographic and political boundaries, respect for communities of interest and adherence to the federal Voting Rights Act. After it adopts a grid map, the commission will then adjust the boundaries based on those criteria to draw nine new congressional districts and 30 new legislative districts.

The commission’s first meeting after the census data is released will be on Aug. 17.

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”

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