Washington enacts new legislative districts

Washington enacted new legislative districts on Feb. 8 when the Washington State Senate approved an amended version of a map proposal drafted by the Washington State Redistricting Commission. The maps will take effect for Washington’s 2022 state legislative elections.

Washington’s four redistricting commissioners each released their proposed state legislative maps on Sept. 21, 2021. The commission announced on Nov. 16 that it was not able to produce new maps by its Nov. 15 deadline and had submitted plans to the Supreme Court for consideration, as authority to draw new maps passed to the court if the commission failed to agree on maps before the deadline. The court decided to accept the final legislative map drafts the commission submitted, ruling that it had “substantially complied” with the deadline. The Washington House approved the final state legislative map proposal by an 88-7 vote on Feb. 2, and the Senate approved the proposal on Feb. 8 in a 35-14 vote.

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D) voted for the new maps but said, “I continue to have significant concern that the Yakima Valley legislative district may not be compliant with the federal Voting Rights Act.” Senator Jamie Pedersen (D) said, “I think I’m not the only one who was surprised and disappointed that this past Nov. 15, as the clock approached midnight, without actually having agreed on a plan, without having published a plan for public comment, our redistricting commission voted to approve some sort of oral agreement that they had to send that over to us.”

Commission member April Sims said, “I just think there is something really powerful about forcing folks who normally wouldn’t come together to come together. It means everyone has to give a little in the process and no one side wins. And I think that’s good for democracy and good for the public.” Senate Minority Leader John Braun (R) said the commission’s work was a bipartisan process and “We can, none of us, expect to get all the things we want.”

Thirty-three states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers as of Feb. 9, and one state has adopted maps that have not yet gone into effect. The state supreme courts in two states have overturned previously enacted maps, and 14 states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census. Thirty-eight states had enacted legislative redistricting plans after the 2010 census as of Feb. 9, 2012.

Nationwide, states have completed legislative redistricting for 1,387 of 1,972 state Senate seats (70.3%) and 3,256 of 5,411 state House seats (60.2%).

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