Court orders state commission to explain chaotic events leading up to missed redistricting deadline

Nov 19, 2021, 2:02 PM | Updated: Nov 22, 2021, 8:21 am
Washington state legislature, redistricting commission...
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

After a state commission missed a Monday deadline, it will now fall to the Supreme Court of Washington to draw new legislative and congressional districts. Before it does that, the court is ordering the commission to explain the series of events that led up to its failure to come to an agreement in time.

‘This is a complete joke’: Redistricting group fails to approve new map amid outcry over process

That process played out during a five-hour meeting on Monday, where it appeared as though the four bipartisan members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission (WSRC) had come to an agreement on new maps minutes before a midnight deadline. Rumors then swirled for much of Tuesday morning, particularly over the closed-door nature of the night’s proceedings, which some claim violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act.

The WSRC then canceled a scheduled 10 a.m. news conference, instead sending out a press release roughly an hour later stating that it had in fact not reached a deal.

Further confusion ensued when the WSRC published new maps nearly 24 hours after the deadline, urging the state Supreme Court to take them under consideration. The following day, one of the commissioners provided some insight into what proved to be a chaotic final few minutes before midnight on Monday, where the group had allegedly reached a “verbal agreement” on a “framework,” but failed to conduct a formal vote before time expired.

Post blown redistricting deadline, state commission blames ‘partisan performance’

Given the uncertainty surrounding the whole process, the state Supreme Court issued an order on Thursday mandating that the WSRC’s chair file a sworn declaration by Monday, Nov. 22, with “a detailed timeline” of the events that transpired between Monday’s meeting and Tuesday’s late release of the commission’s maps.

“This should include the timing of any votes taken by the commission, exactly what each vote was regarding, and any other actions taken by the commission,” the order reads.

This year marks the first time since the commission was created in 1991 that it’s failed to approve new legislative and congressional maps. Now, the state Supreme Court has until April 30 to complete the redistricting process.

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Court orders state commission to explain chaotic events leading up to missed redistricting deadline