Washington State Redistricting Update

Every state must redraw its legislative and congressional districts every 10 years using updated census numbers to ensure equal representation. Throughout the summer, the Washington Redistricting Commission has been holding public meetings across the state to get community input on how the new districts should be drawn.

Bonnie Bunning, Executive Director of the Washington State Redistricting Commission, confirmed that the commissioners will unveil their individual legislative and congressional plans on Sept. 13, giving people the opportunity to study and compare the maps and prepare comments. There will be a formal opportunity for comment on those drafts at the Oct. 11 commission meeting.

The commission is still working on the format, but they expect to offer the opportunity to testify in person, over the web, by phone, or via email. They will also gladly accept any feedback in any form anytime between their September and October meetings. All comments and plans, including the commissioners’, will be posted on the commission’s website www.redistricting.wa.gov once they are released.

You can also visit the commission’s website for information about participating in one of the committee’s hearings, which will be broadcast on TVW—www.tvw.org—for those who prefer to watch them from the comfort of their own home.

The commission is aiming to have a consensus legislative and congressional map by November first. This redistricting plan becomes final unless it is amended by the legislature within 30 days after the beginning of the next regular or special legislative session.

By law, if the Legislature wants to change the plan approved by the Redistricting Commission, any new district boundary lines they propose can affect no more than two percent of a district’s population and must be approved by two-thirds of the members of each legislative chamber.

The governor may not veto the commission’s redistricting plan. There is no final vote of approval on the redistricting plan, and it takes effect 30 days after the legislative session begins. If the Redistricting Commission fails to meet the deadline for submitting a redistricting plan—January 1, 2012—the state Supreme Court must prepare a plan by March 1, 2012.

Much like redistricting takes place on the state and local levels, reapportionment happens every 10 years to adjust congressional seats among the 50 states so that everyone is fairly represented in the U.S. Congress. The U.S. Constitution requires that the U.S. House of Representatives have 435 seats divided between all 50 states. Each state receives at least one congressional seat. The remaining 385 are then divided, or apportioned, according to population. As the population of some states grows faster than others, congressional seats shift from the slow-growing states to the ones seeing greater population growth.

The 2010 Census counted just over 6.7 million people living in Washington. With its significant growth, Washington will gain a 10th congressional seat, meaning the Redistricting Commission must draw the voting boundaries for this new congressional district.

The number of people allocated to each district is based on the 2010 Census. Divided into 49 legislative districts, each legislative district must, as nearly as is practicable, have 137,235 people living in its borders. Divided into 10 congressional districts, each congressional district must have approximately 672,454 people.

September 13 – Commission Meeting – Draft Commissioner Plans
October 11 – Commission Meeting – Public review of Draft plans
November 8 – Commission Meeting – Goal for Commissioner agreed upon plans
December 13 – Commission Meeting
January 1 – Deadline for adopting and submitting a redistricting plan to the Legislature


Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team:

Jennifer Wagner, Director of Legislative Advocacy
Mark Minickiello
, Vice President, Legislative Affairs
Stacy Augustine
, Senior Vice President & General Counsel

Posted in Advocacy News.