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Nebraska legislators push redistricting sessions, await Census data

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 10:21 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska is taking action Thursday night to make sure every vote counts.

This isn’t a story about election fraud. Rather, it’s about drawing lines on a map and making sure areas are divided fairly.

Thursday, 6 News learned Nebraska lawmakers will wrap four or five days early this month. Those days will come in handy because they’ll likely return this fall for a special session in September to deal with redistricting.

Normally that work is done months ago, but the U.S. Census is months behind with its data about who lives where.

Every 10 years, the Census sprawls out across the neighborhoods and communities in the country and does a head-count. How many people are there, and where do they live? That information is shared with the states by October of the year ending in a zero, so 2020.

But COVID-19 set them back months, and it’s impacting states — they still don’t have the information.

Nebraska senators will need to come back to the Legislature this fall to re-draw the lines before the next election cycle. Here’s why that’s important:

“That’s how we ensure one person, one vote,” Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen said Thursday. “If you have one district that is twice the size of another district next to it, then the people with twice the size of the other district, in effect, are only getting half of their vote.”

Evnen said he expects the Census data in mid-August, but the back-up can cause trickle-down problems. Not to mention that redistricting always gets political as both sides angle for an edge.

While other states may struggle with tardy data, state leaders want Nebraskans to be confident in their plan.

“I’m confident we’ll have our 2022 election go off properly despite the failure of the Census Bureau and getting us the data anywhere close on time,” Evnen said.

We do know this: Nebraska and Iowa populations are consisten enough that we won’t lose any Congressional seats.

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