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Breaking: Re-districting Commission deadlocks

For the first time since Washington State’s commission model for re-districting was formed in 1983, the Re-Districting Commission has deadlocked. 

Three commissioners are required to agree on maps to move the process forward. The commission has four voting members and one non-voting chair. The commission released a statement moments ago.

Last night, after substantial work marked by mutual respect and dedication to the important task, the four voting commissioners on the state redistricting commission were unable to adopt a districting plan by the midnight deadline… the Supreme Court now has jurisdiction to adopt a districting plan. The commissioners have every faith that the Supreme Court will draw maps that are fair and worthy of the people of Washington.”

The final map is required to be drawn in such a way as to not “purposely to favor or discriminate against any political party or group.”

As reported in a recent series conducted by the Wire, this has created a re-balancing effect in recent years that has benefited Republicans. In a 57% Democratic performance state, the legislature has reliably remained closely balanced during most of the last decade. 

The Supreme Court now has until April 30th to write a final plan for the state. It’s map will be considered final and be in force for the next decade, unless the legislature reconvenes the Commission by a vote of 2/3rds affirmative in both chambers.

Expect the potential for lawsuits challenging that map when it comes out, forcing a court challenge to decide what the Washington State Constitution means when it says: 

The commission’s plan shall not be drawn purposely to favor or discriminate against any political party or group.

Does that mean no partisan advantage equals a 50-50 map? Or does that mean the map should affirm the 57% Democratic performance in statewide elections?

We’ll discuss this with a panel on re-districting at our 2021 Re-Wire Policy Conference in four weeks. 

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