Remapping Colorado: Census data comes a few days early, the week ahead in redistricting

Thy Vo and Sandra Fish
The Colorado Sun
Members of the Colorado Redistricting Commission speak with community members during a hearing on Saturday, July 31, 2021 in Frisco. The hearing provided Coloradans a chance to voice their input for preliminary map drawings.
Photo by Ashley Low / Ashley Low Photography

DENVER — After more than four months of delays and scrambling over redistricting deadlines, the 2020 U.S. Census data will be released a few days early. The U.S. Census Bureau tweeted last Thursday, Aug. 5, that the final population data will be released on Wednesday, Aug. 12, rather than Aug. 16 as was expected.

“It’s a little padding for us,” said Jessika Shipley, staff director for the independent redistricting commissions. “It doesn’t give us that much wiggle room, but we needed a little wiggle room.”

Once they get the data, nonpartisan redistricting staff will need to process the raw data and turn it into a whole new set of congressional and legislative maps. The extra time won’t shift the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission’s new schedule for releasing staff maps, Shipley said, with the first staff map based on 2020 data slated for release on Sept. 5.

After previously hearing from people in mountain communities like Steamboat Springs and Frisco, redistricting commissioners spent the past weekend in Colorado Springs, Trinidad, Alamosa and Durango. They’ve heard a similar message from residents of both mountain towns and southern Colorado: Give us our own congressional district.

At a July 31 meeting in Frisco, Summit County residents said they shouldn’t be drawn into the 3rd Congressional District with the Western Slope. Summit County and mountain towns along the Interstate 70 corridor are “recreational, environmental-based economies” compared to more agricultural and extractive industries to the West, said Hunter Mortenson, the mayor of Frisco. “I see us as being too much at odds with each other.”

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