Washington Supreme Court says redistricting commission’s new maps will stand

View the state final maps here

Capitol Hill’s state legislative district will add Laurelhurst and a chunk of Belltown while Seattle’s federal Congressional district borders will hardly budge. The changes from the state’s redistricting commission are ready to become official after Washington’s Supreme Court ordered the commission’s final maps to stand despite the body’s failure to meet the deadline for agreement.

CHS reported here on the options that were considered for the state’s 43rd District that includes Capitol Hill. In the end, the commission’s adjustments for the 43rd include adding Belltown, and southern Laurelhurst in exchange for lopping off areas around Green Lake. The 43rd’s current leadership includes Sen. Jamie Pedersen, Rep. Nicole Macri, and Rep. Frank Chopp, the Olympia veteran who has served since 1995 and was Speaker of the House for 20 years before stepping down in 2019.

Seattle’s Congressional borders won’t change significantly, again splitting Capitol Hill across two Districts, the 7th and the 9th. The dividing line runs along Union between Madison and MLK. It then turns south along MLK to Yesler, and then heads east to the lake. From the Union and Madison junction, it continues west along Madison, before jogging south, looping the hospitals and the ID. The areas south of this line will be in the 9th, which also includes Mercer Island, the southern part of Bellevue, Seattle between I-5 and Lake Washington, and the southern suburban cities as far south as Federal Way and parts of Auburn. North of the line will be the 7th, which would include the bulk of Seattle, and Vashon Island. The 7th is currently represented by Pramila Jayapal (D). The 9th is represented by Adam Smith (D). Both of them, along with the entire U.S. House of Representatives, are up for re-election next year.

The reshaping of the state’s boundaries were planned to be in place in time for the 2022 midterm elections. Created by state constitutional amendment in the 1980’s, the commission first created maps in 1991, after the 1990 census. A different group of commissioners are appointed each time. Two people are appointed by Democrats and two by Republicans. Those four then appoint a non-voting, fifth member to act as chair. For a map to be approved, at least three of the voting members must agree on it. The idea was to take the process out of the hands of a partisan Legislature, which in many states leads to lawmakers drawing maps that nakedly favor one party over the other. Washington’s process typically leads to the vast majority of the seats being safe for one party or the other, while a handful are competitive.

CHS, meanwhile, reported here on the redistricting effort at the county level.In King County, each of the nine districts has grown with increases ranging from about 29,000 to about 59,000. The fastest growing area was District 4, which encompasses Northwest Seattle, from the city limits south to also include Magnolia, Queen Anne and South Lake Union. Slowest growing was District 9, which included the southern portion of Bellevue, Newcastle, parts of Renton, and then extends southeast through unincorporated areas, and the cities of Black Diamond, Covington and Maple Valley.

The bulk of Capitol Hill is in District 2, one of the slower-growing parts of the county.

District lines are re-drawn every 10 years when the U.S. Census Bureau releases its latest population update.


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Washington Supreme Court says redistricting commission’s new maps will stand