New Decade, New Districts: Washington Uses Census Data to Redraw Political Boundaries | Local
A new batch of census data released in August shows demographics in Washington have changed over the past decade. Now, a state agency is working to redraw the voting limits to bring them into line with the latest information.
Each of the four voting commissioners will release their own draft map for the state’s legislative districts on Tuesday. Each legislative district elects one senator and two representatives to serve in Olympia.
Draft maps for the state’s congressional districts will follow Sept. 28, Nixon said. Each of Washington’s 10 congressional districts elects a representative to the United States House. While Washington’s population has grown since 2010, adding another congressional seat was not enough.
The maps will be available on the commission’s website, redistricting.wa.gov. Voting commissioners are April Sims, Paul Graves, Brady Piñero Walkinshaw and Joe Fain.
Why design new neighborhoods?
Data released by the Census Bureau every 10 years shows changes in population and community demographics. The state then redraws district boundaries to reflect these changes.
Districts should be made as equal in population as possible, according to the commission’s website. Districts are not meant to reflect partisan advantage, discriminate against one group or divide cities and other political subdivisions, he said.
Lisa McLean, executive director of the redistricting commission, said changes in age and diversity were notable in the 2020 census data released Aug. 12.
The state saw greater population growth in older age categories, but Yakima County was among the counties that had the highest growth in people under 18, McLean said at the meeting. business of the committee on August 16.
She said the changes in data collection gave people more choices for reporting their racial background, including allowing people to select multiple races.
“You can see that diversity in our state,” she said.
In Washington, 40% more of the population identified as Hispanic, 37% more identified as Black, 57% more identified as Native American and 55% more identified as Asian, McLean said.
Census data also shows that Latinos make up more than half of Yakima County’s population.
The commission uses census data to identify districts where boundaries may need to change. Congressional districts will be adjusted to meet a new population goal of 770,000 people in each of the 10 districts, McLean said.
The target population of state legislative districts will be 157,000. Today’s District 14, which includes western Yakima County, had a population of 147,266 in 2020, according to census data. District 15, which includes eastern Yakima County, had a population of 144,666.
District 13, which includes Ellensburg, Moses Lake and a small portion of Yakima County, had a population of 150,687. District 16, which includes Walla Walla, Prosser, and parts of Kennewick and Pasco, had a population of 147,441.
The maps released in September are not final, and commissioners will consider public feedback before making decisions, Nixon said.
The public can submit comments by phone call, email, audio file or video message once the maps are released, he said. People can also comment directly on the map file on the website.
The commission will hold public outreach meetings on October 5 for legislative districts and October 9 for congressional districts.
Members of the public can also submit their own maps using the commission’s online mapping tool.
Three of the four commissioners must agree on a single legislative map and a single congressional map by midnight Nov. 15, Nixon said.
“It’s about the commissioners coming together and ironing out their differences…and considering the public feedback they’ve received,” he said.
The two final maps will be forwarded to the Legislative Assembly for consideration.
The legislature then has 30 days after the start of its 2022 session to make changes to the maps. Changes made by the legislature in the past have been technical, Nixon said, not affecting the overall makeup of the card.
If no changes are made, the commission’s maps will become law as submitted.