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Editor’s Thought Bubble: Get ready for a break-neck redistricting schedule

By: - January 28, 2021 9:00 am

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Yesterday’s news that state-level Census data won’t be available until the end of July — and possibly later — complicates things for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. A decade ago, that data was available in the spring, so when the commission hired a mapping consulting firm in June, that company was able to hit the ground running. By July, the AIRC had completed its first constitutionally required step of creating “grid maps,” or maps that divide the state into geographically equal blocks and serve as the starting point for all subsequent map-making. By August, the AIRC was convening meetings across the state to gather public input that informed the mapping work.

This year will necessarily be different, as the Census was hobbled both by a pandemic and the Trump administration’s efforts to scare many immigrant communities into not participating. The result is dramatically delayed data, without which, mapping can’t be done. It all presages a break-neck pace for the redistricting panel, which will only feed the complaints (legal and otherwise) of the political party that feels it got short shrift in the final maps.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.