State commission publishes new redistricting maps nearly 24 hours past deadline
In an unexpected twist, the group tasked with Washington’s redistricting process has agreed to new legislative and congressional maps, nearly 24 hours past the deadline.
This marks the latest chapter in what’s been a confusing saga, with the Washington State Redistricting Commission (WSRC) failing to agree on new maps by a midnight deadline between Monday and Tuesday of this week. That was after five hours of deliberations — much of which took place behind closed doors — that wrapped up with the commission appearing to have conducted a last-second vote just under the wire.
Then, on Tuesday, the WSRC canceled a morning press conference, instead sending out a release stating that it had in fact not come to an agreement in time, and that it would now be up to the state Supreme Court to redraw the state’s districts.
On Wednesday morning, the commission released new maps, making them available to the public at this link. Because those maps were agreed upon well past the deadline, redistricting remain in the hands of the state Supreme Court, although the WSRC did send their maps to the court for consideration.
Controversy also continues to swirl regarding the process leading up the commission’s late publishing of its maps, which some have claimed violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act. Others have criticized the confusion that surrounded the final minutes leading into the midnight deadline.
“The Redistricting Commission not only failed to meet the statutory deadline, but it also declined to interact with the public during public meetings, limited accessibility in critical moments, and grossly disregarded transparency expectations,” Yakima City Councilmember Dulce Gutierrez said in a Tuesday press release sent on behalf of a group known as Redistricting Justice for Washington.
Moving forward, the state Supreme Court has until the end of April 2022 to complete the redistricting process.