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Strength in Numbers: A Guide to the 2020 Census Redistricting Data From the U.S. Census Bureau

About the Redistricting Data Program

P.L. 94-171 stipulates that the U.S. Census Bureau work in a nonpartisan manner with the states to identify and provide the small-area population counts necessary for legislative redistricting. The Census Bureau is required to provide these counts to the governor, the legislative majority and minority leaders, and the public bodies responsible for legislative redistricting in each state within 1 year of Census Day.

The Census Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office (CRVRDO) implemented the requirements of P.L. 94-171 through the 2020 Redistricting Data Program (RDP). Goals of the program included:

  • Providing states with the opportunity to influence the creation of 2020 tabulation blocks by suggesting linear features to be used or not used for block boundaries.
  • Providing states the opportunity to submit voting district (e.g. precincts, wards), state legislative district, and congressional district boundaries to the Census Bureau.
  • Providing states with 2020 Census data tabulated to the blocks, voting districts, state legislative districts, and congressional districts they submitted for use in redistricting efforts.
  • Providing states with 2020 Census geographic support products to support post-2020 redistricting work, including digital boundary files and maps.
  • Providing states the opportunity to comment on the format and content of 2020 Census data tabulations and geographic support products.

The Census Bureau officially established the 2020 RDP in the Federal Register on July 15, 2014. In 2015, the CRVRDO invited state governors and legislative leadership in each state to designate a nonpartisan liaison to represent the state. The nonpartisan state liaison serves as the primary point of contact between the Census Bureau and the state throughout the lifecycle of the Redistricting Data Program.

In late 2015, CRVRDO staff began meeting with state officials (when requested by the non-partisan liaison) to discuss benefits of participation in the 2020 RDP. Kick off meetings were held at 26 state capitols, where CRVRDO staff presented details of the 2020 RDP and other decennial census activities. In addition to those 26 state kickoff meetings, redistricting staff performed on-site training for 11 states and Puerto Rico on how to participate in the 2020 RDP.

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