More Redistricting Delays – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 20, 2021 — Yesterday, we covered the Census Bureau announcement that delivering new population data to the individual states will again be postponed, and what effect receiving numbers in October, if then, will have on the redistricting process.

Today, after previously analyzing the states that appear poised to gain seats, we look at those that will probably lose districts. At this point, estimates project that 10 seats will be transferred. This, however, is only a projection as the current published numbers do not include the final changes in the previous decade’s last year.

At this point, all of the succeeding states appear positioned to lose one seat. The individual state logistical data comes from a study that the Brennan Center for Justice just released.


Alabama

It appears that Alabama is on the cusp of losing a seat depending upon who is counted and where they reside. This specifically refers to college students and non-citizens. President Biden’s executive order countermanding President Trump’s directive not to count non-citizens may have an effect upon Alabama’s status. Officials there may sue over the apportionment if, in the final count, the state loses one of their seven districts.

It is likely that Alabama redistricting will be pushed into 2022 irrespective of the apportionment decision because the legislature will be out of session when the data is finally delivered. The state’s May 24 primary could conceivably be postponed.


California

For the first time in history, California is likely to lose a seat in apportionment. The 2010 apportionment cycle was the first in which the state did not gain representation. In the 1980 census, for example, California gained seven seats.

The Golden State has a redistricting commission, but the data postponement may force the process into a secondary mode since the redistricting completion deadline is Aug. 15. Unless the deadlines are changed, the state Supreme Court will appoint a special master to draw the map. California’s March 8, 2022 primary may have to be postponed, and almost assuredly their Dec. 10 candidate filing deadline will have to move.


Illinois

The state legislature has the redistricting pen, but Illinois also has a backup commission empowered in case the regular process is not completed. A March 15, 2022 primary and certainly a Nov. 29 candidate filing deadline, however, could and will face postponement.


Michigan

Voters previously adopted the institution of a 13-member commission to draw maps. The commissioners, now appointed, consist of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five unaffiliated voters.

With an April 1, 2022 candidate filing deadline and an Aug. 2 state primary, the Michigan system should have time to complete the redistricting process without changing their election cycle calendar.


Minnesota

Under the current circumstances, it appears the deadline for the legislature to complete Minnesota redistricting will be Feb. 15, 2022. If so, the state’s May 31st candidate filing deadline and Aug. 9 primary should remain intact.


New York

The Empire State has an advisory redistricting commission that is charged with providing the legislature draft maps. The plans must be submitted to the legislature by Jan. 15, 2022. If the legislature does not act by Feb. 28, the commission must then file alternative plans for the US House and state legislature.

The New York candidate filing deadline is preliminarily set for April 7, 2022 with the state primary on June 28.


Ohio

The Ohio situation is one of the more complex. Unless changed, the legislative redistricting deadlines will not be met under what the Census Bureau representatives are saying about data delivery. In that event, a standing redistricting commission subsequently takes over the process. A map must pass the legislature with a three out of five majority vote or have a bipartisan majority from a commission. If the commission cannot meet an Oct. 31, 2021 deadline for completing their work, then the legislature re-assumes control.

The preliminary Ohio candidate filing deadline is Feb. 2, 2022 for a May 3 state primary election.


Pennsylvania

The legislature has no specific deadline to complete redistricting, but it is a near certainty that the process will end with the state Supreme Court. If the Republican legislature passes a map, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is a lock to veto the plan knowing that it will automatically then be transferred to the Democratic-controlled state Supreme Court.

The preliminary candidate filing deadline is March 8, 2022 for the May 17 midterm primary election.


Rhode Island

With the state likely to lose one of its two seats, congressional redistricting will not be an issue. Deadlines won’t matter here since the state will assume at-large congressional district status.


West Virginia

Republicans are in control of the redistricting process, but that won’t stop the party from losing one of its three seats. There is no specific statutory redistricting deadline, but the preliminary candidate filing deadline is currently set for Jan. 29, 2022.

With the legislature set to convene on Jan. 12, it is likely that either the candidate filing deadline will have to be postponed, or redistricting handled in an early special session. The West Virginia primary is scheduled for May 10.

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