The editorial “Preserve Washington’s redistricting commission” confuses partisanship and independence.
As the editorial notes, Washington’s constitution gives each legislative caucus one appointee to the state redistricting commission: two Democrats and two Republicans. Therefore, the commissioners are not independent; they specifically represent their party’s interests. Because it requires three votes — two from members of one party and at least one from the other party — to approve a plan, the commission is described as bipartisan. But the result of our state’s redistricting commissions have been mostly partisan legislative and congressional districts, with one or two swing districts.
Voting districts should unite communities, so representatives of those districts can reflect the interests of those communities. Many of our districts don’t do this. The 11th legislative district, for example, has its north end in Seattle and wanders south through Renton to Kent. The 8th congressional district even crosses the Cascades, combining Chelan and Kittitas counties with parts of King and Pierce counties.
An independent redistricting commission would be composed not of political appointees but of demographers and geographers who could analyze community characteristics and draw district boundaries that reflect common interests. This is what Washington and all other states need.
Charles Davis, Seattle