Census data for redistricting on the way

Posted: Wednesday, March 07, 2001

The U.S. Census Bureau tentatively is scheduled to release complete Alaska data next week, beginning the process of redrawing legislative boundaries to reflect shifts in population between 1990 and 2000.

The Bush administration announced Tuesday that it will not use a suggested formula to "adjust" last year's Census count to pick up people, mostly in urban areas, who might have been missed. That decision allows the release of the "unadjusted" numbers well in advance of the April 1 deadline.

In Alaska that means an accelerated schedule for the state redistricting board, says executive director Gordon Harrison of Juneau. The board, operating out of a state building on Willoughby since last fall, is still getting its computers set up.

According to the release schedule, Alaska should get its Census data on compact discs via Federal Express as soon as Monday, Harrison said. The receipt of those discs starts a 30-day clock running on one or more draft plans for new House and Senate districts. Proposed boundaries must be available for public review after 30 days, and then there is a 60-day deadline for issuing a final redistricting plan.

Redistricting used to be the responsibility of the governor. But a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998 set up a five-member board to take over the task. The new districts are meant to be effective for next year's legislative races, although court challenges a decade ago held up implementation of final boundaries until 1994.

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