Washington
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by independent redistricting commission
State BoundariesDrawn by independent redistricting commission
Governor's PartyDemocratic
Legislative PartyDemocratic

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

Congressional

Alert:
Guarded

State Legislative

Alert:
Guarded

Process

Redistricting Commission

Washington's state legislative and congressional districts are drawn by a five-member Redistricting Commission. The first four members are selected by the four legislative leaders, and they collectively select a fifth non-voting member who serves as chair. The redistricting commission submits its plans to the Legislature, which may amend them if two-thirds of each house approves the amendment within thirty days.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Washington’s state constitution (Art. II §§ 6, 43) requires that state legislative and congressional districts be compact and contiguous, and prohibits favoring or discriminating against any political party or group. Washington’s state statutes (Code § 44.05.090) also require that districts preserve political subdivisions, preserve communities of interest, and be drawn to promote competitiveness.

In 2019, Washington passed SB 5287 ending the practice of prison gerrymandering and reassigning currently incarcerated populations to their last-known place of residence for the purpose of redistricting.

Public Input

Washington’s state statutes (Code § 44.05.080) require the commission to hold public meetings and preserve its records, as well as publish a report with the final plan that includes explanations of the criteria used. In the last redistricting cycle, the commission also held eighteen public forums between May and August 2011. It is likely that there will be similar opportunities for public input in 2021.

Issues

Pitfalls

Washington has significant Asian, Latino, African-American, and Native American populations, raising concerns of fair representation under the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. In the last redistricting cycle, a number of advocacy groups, activists, and citizens pushed for the creation of Washington’s first majority-minority district in order to achieve more representation for growing communities of color.

Potential Reform

A bill, HB2575, was introduced to improve the Washington commission's public hearing and transparency requirements. This bill passed through the state House 57-41, but died in committee upon the Legislature's adjournment. It may still serve as a template for future reform efforts.

  • This bill sought to improve the public input and transparency requirements for Washington's independent commission process. For public input, this bill would have required two rounds of public hearings: ten before a preliminary plan is drawn and ten after. At least one hearing would have been held per congressional district, set up with technology to allow for virtual participation.
  • On the transparency side, this bill would have required that the commission release a preliminary plan 30 days before starting the second round of public hearings. After these hearings, it also would have to release a "reasonably final plan at least seven days before final approval" and a report with detailed information about each plan.
  • Lastly, this bill would have required the creation of a website for the commission to disseminate information about the commission and its schedule. This website would have served as a repository for commission meeting documents, transcripts, and video archives, draft plans, and redistricting data, as well as a place for the public to submit comments and map proposals.

Actions

In 2021, participate in the Commission’s public input process.

  • Obtain Washington redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the commission starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

League of Women Voters Washington

FairVote Washington

Fix Democracy First

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia