The South Dakota legislative committee charged with redrawing legislative district boundaries as required after every census held its initial meeting Tuesday, talking about a timeline for the nearly year-long process and potential pitfalls.
They were warned by Matt Frame, a lawyer with the Legislative Research Council, that they will likely be working on a tight timeline and using census data that is less accurate than in previous years.
The U-S Census Bureau says it won’t be delivering data used for redrawing districts until the end of September, so instead of the months they had in previous years to pore over census data, they will only have weeks to meet a Dec. 1 deadline.
If the Legislature can’t meet the Dec. 1 deadline to approve new districts, the state Supreme Court would, under state law, step in to complete the process.
Frame also told the committee that even if it does everything correctly, it’s maps could be thrown out by a potential nationwide lawsuit about the quality of the census data.
Concerns have been raised that the 2020 census was less accurate than previous ones and undercounted minorities even more, mostly due to the pandemic limiting direct contact and followup by census takers.
In October, the committee, which has just 2 Democrats, will tour South Dakota for a series of hearings over 3 days. They are also considering redistricting software that would allow people to comment on proposed boundaries.