For the first time since its inception in 1990, the independent commission charged with redrawing congressional and legislative district lines in Washington state on Monday failed to agree on the final terms of the proposed map lines.
Commissioners had until midnight Monday to agree on final district lines and debated the limits until the last possible minute. The commission voted at midnight to approve new lines, although it did not publish them publicly.
On Tuesday morning, a planned press conference to highlight the new maps was deleted and commissioners admitted defeat.
“Last night, after substantial work marked by mutual respect and dedication to the important task, the four voting commissioners of the state redistricting commission were unable to adopt a redistricting plan before the midnight deadline. “the commission said in a statement Tuesday.
Commissioners blamed the late release of data from the US Census Bureau, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and litigation over decisions made by the Trump administration.
Several other states have applied for court orders to extend their own redistricting deadlines or have exceeded set targets. But the Washington state commission was constrained by state law that now gives the state Supreme Court authority to design the lines. The court has until April 30 to draw new lines.
The state of Washington sends ten members to the House of Representatives. Currently, the delegation includes seven Democrats, all from the western Cascade Mountains, and three Republicans, two of whom represent districts in the less populated and more rural eastern half of the state.
Washington’s redistricting commission is one of the oldest in the country and, as of this year, the group of two Democrats and two Republicans, chaired by a non-partisan, non-voting fifth member, had always reached an agreement. on the lines of the district map.
Under commission rules, each commissioner offers a draft map. In recent decades, one commissioner from each party has focused on the lines of the legislative map, while another has focused on the lines of Congressional districts.
The limits proposed by the two Democratic commissioners this year would have created three districts that were solidly Democratic, four more that leaned heavily to their side, and three secure Republican seats. A Republican commissioner, former state Sen. Joe Fain (R), proposed drawing five Democratic districts, three safe Republican seats, and two that tilt slightly to the right. The other, former State Representative Paul Graves (R), proposed to remove four secure Republican seats and a fifth that would lean toward the Republican Party.
The final decisions now left to the Supreme Court will be decided by nine justices who must run in state elections, but who do so in a nonpartisan manner.
Five of the nine justices were appointed to vacancies by the governors of Washington state: two by former Governor Christine Gregoire (D) and three by the current governor. Jay insleeJay Robert Inslee Washington Governor Elects Dem to Replace Biden-Appointed Republican Secretary of State Balance / Sustainability – Presented by Altria – Obama urges the world to do more at COP26 Hawaii Governor urges bolder climate action: Net zero ‘not good enough’ MORE (D).