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February 13, 2021

Late-arriving Census Bureau data could delay Pennsylvania's 2022 primary election

The Census Bureau counts the population every 10 years, and lawmakers use this data to redraw districts

Elections Primaries
Pennsylvania State Primary Rlibrandi/Wikipedia Commons

Pennsylvania may have to delay its 2022 primary election due to late-arriving U.S. Census Bureau data.

Pennsylvania lawmakers said the state may need to postpone its 2022 primary election because of late-arriving U.S. Census Bureau data. 

The Census Bureau's once-a-decade count of populations and their demographics determine how voting districts for the U.S. House and state legislatures are drawn, the Associated Press reported.

This plays a major role in which political party has the power in each state. The party with the most power could tilt a state's policy and impact polarizing laws like guns abortion and taxes, the AP reported.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, said candidates might not have enough time to make decisions about whether or not to run and gather enough signatures to earn their spot on the ballot. 

"We're not at the point where [we] have to put off the primary, but it's something we have to consider if the data comes in so late," Corman said.

The state House and Senate will hold a joint committee hearing on the matter Wednesday to discuss the impact the delay could have. 

This delay wouldn't be the first time a state has had to delay its primary election. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed back 16 states' primary presidential elections in 2020, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Maryland, The New York Times reported.

However, 2020's primary elections were postponed because of the challenges of organizing mail-in voting during the pandemic. The delays to 2022 could come from not being able to plan how many lawmakers each district in the state will receive, which could alter how many politicians decide to run for office. 

The primary election is scheduled for May 17, 2022. 

The Census Bureau predicted Friday that it will deliver the necessary data by the end of September. Typically, this type of data would have come in early this year. Officials say the pandemic is to blame for the delay in operations. 

Data was predicted to come in by late July once the pandemic started, but the Census Bureau pushed the date back again.

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