WASHINGTON—This year’s round of redistricting is already crumbling into partisanship and court challenges in multiple states, even as voters pay more attention than ever to new political maps that will shape elections for a decade.
Hopes were high initially. Advocates in several states pushed measures over the last few years that they hoped would lessen some of the acrimony in the struggle for political power every 10 years.
But the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the 2020 headcount by the Census Bureau, essential for figuring out boundaries. The agency released its population data four months later than normal, giving state lawmakers and others involved in redistricting a pressured timeframe for their maps.
On top of that, many states with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices are working for the first time without the need to get approval from the U.S. Department of Justice for changes, provoking disputes. And throughout the U.S., the bitter debates over the results of the 2020 presidential election are getting replayed in redistricting battles.