California Petitions for Additional Redistricting Extension
July 15, 2021
This week, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission voted unanimously to petition the California Supreme Court for more time to submit final maps. The Commission is seeking an additional two weeks to draw maps, which would make the deadline for final maps January 14, 2022.
Traditionally, the Census Bureau delivers a report with the data determining congressional apportionment by December 31, followed by detailed data sufficient for redistricting delivered by April 1 of the year following the Census. This year, however, the Bureau has announced that redistricting data will not be available until mid-August at the earliest, a delay of nearly eight months. In response, the California Supreme Court allowed the Citizens Redistricting Commission to extend their typical August 15 deadline to finalize maps until December 15.
Advocacy organizations have raised concerns that meaningful public input will be hard to come by as the maps are being finalized, given the end-of-year holidays. However, the Legislature is reluctant to move the primary date, citing voter confusion and participation, especially if the date of the election is pushed farther into the traditional summer vacation season. A later primary would create complications for registrars as well, who have significant work to do between a primary election and the general election.
The delay in Census numbers is also leading to a very tight timeline to complete local redistricting, particularly for local agencies with June elections. The later maps are allowed to be finished, the less time county registrars will have to complete the work necessary to plan for an election. Importantly, the deadline for declaring candidacy and gathering signatures in lieu could be affected.
CSAC has been working closely with the Legislature, county registrars, redistricting advocates, and other local government organizations to find solutions. Those conversations will be significantly affected by the decision of the California Supreme Court on this request from the Citizens Redistricting Commission and could even result in the need for emergency legislation to be passed after summer recess.