AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The U.S. Census Bureau announced Friday redistricting data will be delayed until the end of September.
The delivery of this data, which happens once each decade, had been pushed back multiple times due to delays in data gathering stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest delivery date was previously set for March 31.
The data gathered includes population information about race, ethnicity, voting age, housing occupancy status, and other metrics that states need to redraw or “redistrict” legislative boundaries. This shapes the number of state and federal representatives each community gets.
“Different from previous censuses, the Census Bureau will deliver the data for all states at once, instead of on a flow basis,” a Census Bureau press release indicated.
The delay in data delivery essentially guarantees state lawmakers will be forced into at least one 30-day special legislative session in October or November to redraw the districts before the 2022 primary elections. Next year’s elections could include new districts based on population growth in the Lone Star State.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, hinted Feb. 9 that lawmakers would reconvene in the fall.
“Who will pass the last bill of the year, in October, or however long we’re going to be here?” he quipped— drawing groans in the chamber— after the chamber passed its first resolution of the regular session.
“I just said that for the benefit of the lobbyists in the gallery,” Patrick joked. “I don’t want them planning any vacations this year.”