By Jeanne Crevier / For The Herald
The once-a-decade redistricting process is underway in Washington state and the Redistricting Commission needs your input.
Every 10 years, after the federal census, Washington state redraws the boundaries of congressional and legislative electoral districts to ensure that each district represents a roughly equal number of residents. Initial 2020 census projections tell us the population of Snohomish County has grown by more than 15 percent since 2010, with the greatest part of this change coming from increases in the Hispanic/Latino and Asian populations. Current voting-district lines will shift to reflect this growth. Will they shift in ways that are fair and representative? That depends. We need good processes, good data and thoughtful input from residents in all communities.
Responsibility for drawing new maps rests with the Washington State Redistricting Commission, an independent commission consisting of four voting members — two Democrats and two Republicans — and a fifth, nonvoting chairperson selected by the commissioners. You can read about the current commission members at Draw Your WA, the Washington State Redistricting Commission website at www.redistricting.wa.gov/.
The League of Women Voters of Washington (LWVWA) commends the commission for its efforts to use modern technology to enable and encourage input. The website is friendly and inviting and includes translations into multiple languages. The site provides an array of ways to provide public comments: testifying at a virtual public meeting, uploading video comments, submitting written testimony, emailing or mailing written comments, submitting voicemail, and uploading mapping suggestions. Comments in any language are welcome. Public meetings are broadcast in Spanish and American Sign Language and free interpreter and translation services are available.
Commissioners intend to view, read and listen to all input received. Moreover, commissioners say they are committed to meeting with anyone who wants to provide comment, demonstrating their intention to be inclusive and responsive. They meet monthly with leaders from Redistricting Justice for Washington, a coalition of 30 organizations, including the LWVWA, Win/Win Network and Community Alliance.
The League of Women Voters has created tools to help residents craft effective personal testimony. You can view training videos from our Speak Up School series and find many resources on the Speakup website, lwvwa.org/speakup.
It is not necessary to draw a map. Simply commenting on your community of interest provides important input. However, technology advances make mapping easier, with many purpose-built free solutions available. The redistricting commission created a DrawYourWA mapping tool. Dave’s Redistricting App, Districtr, and Representable are other good options.
The League also intends to present a mapping recommendation to the commission. We are actively hosting listening sessions regionally and statewide to get feedback from community members on draft versions of these maps. After this extensive outreach process, The LWVWA will submit complete map recommendations for legislative and congressional districts. You can follow this process on the LWVWA mapping webpage: lwvwa.org/maps.
Please join us in advocating for districts that fairly represent our changing demographics. If we want representative maps — and the chance to elect people who reflect our communities and our interests — we need to speak up.