Public Law 94-171, enacted in 1975, directs the Census Bureau to make special preparations to provide redistricting data needed by the 50 states.
It specifies that within a year following Census Day, the Census Bureau must send the governor and legislative leadership in each state the data they need to redraw districts for the United States Congress and state legislature.
To meet this legal requirement, the Census Bureau set up a program that affords state officials an opportunity before each decennial census to define the small areas for which they wish to receive census population totals for redistricting purposes. Officials may receive data for voting districts (e.g., election precincts, wards) and state house and senate districts, in addition to standard census geographic areas such as counties, cities, census tracts, and tabulation blocks. State participation in defining areas is voluntary and nonpartisan.