TALLAHASSEE — Blaming coronavirus-related delays, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Friday that data Florida lawmakers will use to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries won’t be delivered until September.
The bureau had planned to start delivering census data to states on Friday and complete the rollout by March 31.
In a blog post, James Whitehorne, chief of the bureau’s Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office, wrote that COVID-19 delays have pushed back the timeline. The data is now expected to be released to all states at one time before Sept. 30.
“We are acutely aware of the difficulties that this delayed delivery of the redistricting data will cause some states,” Whitehorn wrote. “Some states have statutory or even state constitutional deadlines and processes that they will have to address due to this delay. The decision to have a single national delivery ensures that the Census Bureau can provide accurate, high quality, and fit-for-use data in the least total amount of time to all states.”
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, have not assigned lawmakers to fill redistricting committees, though Sprowls has appointed Rep. Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, to chair the House’s once-a-decade reapportionment process. Redrawn districts are expected to be in place for the 2022 elections.
Florida is expected to pick up at least two additional congressional seats with the new population count.