COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The U.S. Census Bureau released population data necessary for Ohio’s upcoming redistricting process Thursday after a lawsuit was filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
The data was released six weeks earlier than planned.
Federal law requires the Census Bureau to provide all states’ census data no later than March 31 of the year after the census was conducted.
“Late data is no data when our constitution requires us to have maps by Sept. 1. Sept 30 just wasn’t good enough. The federal government should have known Ohio had the law on its side from the beginning and just done what the law required it to do,” Yost said.
In February, the bureau announced the data would be delayed until September 30 and cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason.
The postponement would have required that the Ohio Redistricting Commission use alternative data for its 2021 redistricting process.
Ohio Senate minority leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) and state Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) released statements expressing appreciation for the release of the data and an eagerness to get to work.
“I’m grateful that the U.S. Census Bureau has worked quickly, despite difficult circumstances, to distribute this information,” Yuko said. “Although delays from the COVID-19 pandemic have caused this data to get to us later than we had hoped, I am confident the Redistricting Commission will still be able to fulfill its duty to the residents of Ohio. I trust the commission will work efficiently to draw fair state legislative districts before the September 1 deadline.”
“Ohio voters demonstrated two times that they’re ready for fair maps. Now that we have the data from the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s time to get to work to meet their expectations,” Sykes said. “I am hopeful that this data will also be made available soon to the public in an accessible format so Ohioans can submit maps of their own. I look forward to hearing from Ohioans during our upcoming statewide hearings and continuing our bipartisan work on the Redistricting Commission.”
Senator Sykes along with Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) are co-chairs of the Ohio Redistricting Commission.