New map of state congressional districts coming today

OLYMPIA — Washington residents will learn Wednesday where the state’s newest congressional district will land and how the existing ones will be reshaped.

Commissioners redrawing the state’s political map reached agreement Tuesday afternoon on a proposed map for the state’s 10 congressional districts and intend to make it public Wednesday morning.

Though the map will be preliminary, the four voting members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission are considering it largely complete. They have little time to massage it further as they face a Sunday night deadline to approve new boundaries for the state’s congressional and legislative districts and forward them to the Legislature.

Lawmakers get until early February to review and make minor corrections to the boundaries. The new boundaries will be in effect for the 2012 elections.

Redistricting is done every 10 years following the census to ensure the 49 legislative districts in the state and the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are divided as equally as possible by population.

There’s added intrigue this year because Washington is gaining its 10th seat in the House after adding roughly 800,000 new residents in the past decade, a spurt fueled in part by a nearly 18 percent jump in Snohomish County’s population.

Where the new seat winds up and the makeover of the nine existing districts is the task which four men — two Democrats and two Republicans — spent most of 2011 figuring out.

There has been steady public pressure on them to create Washington’s first congressional district where ethnic minorities such as Latinos, Asian Americans and African Americans make up a majority of the population.

There’s also been a push to create more politically balanced congressional districts. With U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee leaving Congress to run for governor, his 1st Congressional District — which includes south Snohomish County — could be reconfigured so a Democrat or Republican could capture the open seat.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Learn more

The commission, which is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. Wednesday, will post the map at www.redistricting.wa.gov.

View the meeting online at www.tvw.org.

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