The Washington State Redistricting Commission is inviting you to reimagine the state’s 10 congressional and 49 legislative district boundaries.
The commission has set up an online tool called Draw Your WA, which allows anyone to use 2020 Census data to redraw the state’s political maps and submit them for consideration.
The new political boundaries will be consequential for the 2022 midterm elections, with potentially bruising reelection battles already emerging for U.S. Reps. Kim Schrier, D-Sammamish, Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground.
“For those who wish to make third-party map submissions, now is the time to visit redistricting.wa.gov, log in to the mapping tool, and draft your vision of what Washington’s state legislative and congressional district maps should look like,” said Commission Chair Sarah Augustine, in a news release.
Under state law and the Washington Constitution, voting districts must be as equal in population as possible and aren’t supposed to be gerrymandered for partisan advantage or discriminate against any group. They’re also supposed to avoid splitting up cities and other political subdivisions.
Each congressional district will contain about 770,000 people under the new maps, up from 672,000 when their boundaries were redrawn following the 2010 Census. The target for legislative districts is 157,000.
Due to uneven population growth over the past decade, some districts will have to shrink or grow their boundaries. For example, the 2020 Census data show the urban 7th Congressional District, swelled vastly in population and will need to be pared down. The more rural 6th Congressional District, saw the least comparative growth and will have to gain territory.
That leaves plenty of room for imagination and political wrangling. Already in 2021, some activist groups are pressing demands to fix what they view as errors of the past, such as dividing tribal lands and diluting the voting power of communities of color.
The redistricting commission tool allows the public to drill down to the census block level and use demographic data from the 2020 Census to help shape maps.
Unlike states that leave redistricting to the party in control of the Legislature — often resulting in blatant gerrymandering and legal challenges — Washington has placed its once-a-decade redistricting powers in the hands of a bipartisan commission.
For 2021, Democrats appointed April Sims, secretary-treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, and Brady Walkinshaw, a former state representative and CEO of Grist, an environmental media organization. Republicans named former state Rep. Paul Graves and Joe Fain, former state senator and CEO of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce. Augustine, the nonvoting commission chair, was picked by the four voting commissioners.
At least three of the commission’s four voting members must agree to the new maps by Nov. 15. The Legislature can make only minor changes to the commission maps and the governor has no role. If the commission fails to meet its deadline, maps would be drawn by the state Supreme Court.
The Democratic and Republican redistricting commissioners are scheduled to release their initial legislative map proposals on Sept. 21 and their congressional map proposals on Sept. 28. Those drafts will be available for public comment.
All public map suggestions must be submitted by Oct. 22 in order for them to be considered by the commission ahead of its Nov. 15 deadline.
Addition information on the redistricting timeline and public-input process is available at the commission website: redistricting.wa.gov