Maine’s redistricting panel will met again Wednesday although the data needed to draw maps remain more than a month away. The 15-member commission is waiting on a decision from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court as to whether and how it can proceed with the congressional and legislative reapportionment process when the U.S. Census Bureau releases the necessary data in mid-August.
Maine faces a time crunch with its redistricting process, as pandemic-related census delays meant the data necessary to draw new districts were not available in time for a constitutional deadline last month. Lawmakers have been united so far in asking the court for more time so the responsibility stays with the Legislature and is not kicked to the courts.
Other states have taken different approaches when faced with the same problem. The Democratic-led Legislature in Illinois approved state legislative maps last month that were drawn using population estimates from the American Community Survey. Illinois Republicans, however, filed a lawsuit arguing the use of estimates was “discriminatory” and calling for more input into the redistricting process. (Unlike Maine, Illinois law does not require maps to be drawn on an independent or bipartisan basis.)
In Colorado, which faces a more complicated apportionment process than Maine as it gained a congressional district this cycle, members of the state’s independent commission have sought public feedback on preliminary maps that were drafted using population estimates. But commission members acknowledged that the maps are preliminary and would need to be adjusted when the final census data are released