New details reveal how last-second vote, technical glitches fueled missed redistricting deadline

Nov 22, 2021, 12:28 PM | Updated: Nov 23, 2021, 8:40 am
Republicans, redistricting...
Aerial view from a drone of the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Washingtonians got their first insight into the state commission’s failure to complete the redistricting process ahead of a deadline early last week.

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

That explanation came in the form of a sworn statement from Sarah Augustine, the chair of the Washington State Redistricting Commission (WSRC), submitted Monday of this week at the behest of the state Supreme Court.

The series of events that led to the missed deadline was the culmination of a five-hour meeting last Monday, where it appeared as though the four bipartisan members of the commission 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.

Augustine — who functions as a non-voting chairperson overseeing the WSRC — detailed in her statement how the commission had actually formally approved its congressional and legislative maps with nearly 30 seconds to spare before the passage of a midnight deadline. That came after the commission had reportedly settled disputes over a trio of legislative districts.

The problem was that the WSRC not only had to approve its maps before midnight between Monday and Tuesday, but also had to have those maps delivered to the state Legislature by that deadline as well. At 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, the commission drafted its “transmittal letter” to state lawmakers, which was not signed by all four commissioners until 12:11 a.m.

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

At 12:13 a.m., that letter was emailed to the Legislature, but did not have the maps attached. Because of a series of technical errors, staff members were unable to upload the finalized congressional and legislative maps until Tuesday night around 8:30 p.m. This year marks the first time since the commission was created in 1991 that it has failed to meet its mandated deadline for new legislative and congressional maps.

A separate letter from the WSRC to the state Supreme Court further explained how commissioners “did not fully comprehend the time and complexity required to formalize the agreement.” In that letter, commissioners urge the court to consider the late-arriving map as it works to complete the redistricting process. The state Supreme Court has until April 30 to do just that.

You can follow updates on the process at this link.

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New details reveal how last-second vote, technical glitches fueled missed redistricting deadline