The coronavirus delayed this year’s census, raising the likelihood that details about the population count won’t arrive until farther into next year than had been expected.

New Jersey is usually one of the states first in line for getting census results, so it can redraw its legislative districts in time for its next election. Because that’s likely to be delayed, Democrats are asking voters to delay redistricting by two years – but some question if that’s really necessary.

New Jersey usually gets its data in February because it’s one of two states, along with Virginia, with legislative elections the year after the census. Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, said it has been told this time it would come in mid-June.

“There’s nothing perfect here but we’re living in imperfect times,” McKeon said.

Jesse Burns, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, said the Feb. 15 deadline in the proposed constitutional amendment is far too early and that in past decades, redistricting was done on schedule even when data arrived after that date.

“Decade after decade, we will be faced with this early permanent Feb. 15 deadline,” Burns said.

Princeton University professor Sam Wang said a regular November election is still possible even if the data arrive as late as April 23. It’s possible to get it as late as July 1 and delay the general election until December.

“It strikes me as a solution that solves a problem that doesn’t quite exist,” Wang, director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, said of the proposed amendment.

— Previous reporting by Michael Symons

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