Communities and populations in Washington change over time. Every 10 years, after the federal government publishes updated census information, Washington redraws the boundaries of its congressional and state legislative electoral districts to ensure that each district represents an equal number of residents.
The 2021 Redistricting Commission made a video to explain the redistricting process in Washington:
Also every 10 years, a bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission is established for the purpose of redrawing legislative and congressional district boundaries.
The Washington State Redistricting Commission consists of four voting members — two Democrats and two Republicans — picked by the leaders of the Democratic and Republican caucuses in the state House and Senate. A fifth, nonvoting chairperson is then picked by the voting members. The 2021 Redistricting Commission is the youngest and most diverse Redistricting Commission appointed in our state.
The Commission must draw the district lines in conformity with strict, nonpartisan rules designed to create districts of relatively equal population that will provide fair representation for all Washingtonians.
Every 10 years, Washington redraws the boundaries for congressional and legislative districts in order to account for population shifts in the last decade and ensure that each district has an approximately equal number of residents. A five-member independent, bipartisan commission is appointed for this process, and its work uses data from the federal decennial census as directed by Article II, section 43 of the Washington Constitution and RCW 44.05.
Once the commission completed its work, the legislature had 30 days during any regular or special session to amend the commission’s plan. The legislature may adopt changes that move no more than 2 percent of the population of any legislative or Congressional district with a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers [see RCW 44.05.100(2)].
On February 8, 2022, the Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 4407, amending their districting plan. The final plan, as amended, will be in force until the next decennial census or until a modified plan takes effect as provided in RCW 44.05.120(6).
Data from the Census Bureau is the data all states use to perform their redistricting. COVID-19 delayed the normal process of data collection by several months, leading to delays in data processing and consequently the delivery of the data.
The nation received the apportionment data on April 26, 2022 which confirmed that there is no change in the number of congressional representatives or electoral college votes here in Washington state – even if there were changes elsewhere.
The apportionment data should have been delivered to the president at the end of 2020, but due to delays caused by the pandemic, they needed extra time to clean the data. Overall, the Bureau reported that Washington has a population of 7,705,281, which is 14.6% more than in 2010 and represents an increase of more than a million people.
As a nation, the population grew 7.4%, which is one of the slowest growths recorded in history. The Census Bureau recorded a total US resident population of 331,449,281.
Many may ask: how much did my county, city, community grow? We don’t have that information yet. While the Bureau should have released that data on April 1, 2021 – it does not expect to be able to provide that data to the public until September 30, 2021 due to all of the complications caused by the pandemic and the changed timeline for data collection.
Given that this delay introduces several challenges for states with early deadlines for redistricting processes defined in their constitutions or laws, the Bureau has announced that it will provide to the public a data file with final redistricting data as early as August 16, 2021 in an unrefined form.
Washington’s deadline to produce maps is November 15 – so we welcome the Bureau’s early release of data. And we are currently identifying our staffing needs that will enable us to take the unrefined data we receive in August and use it to begin to draw maps before the release of the more friendly data on Sept. 30.
According to the 2020 Census, the population in Washington state grew 14.6 percent (or 980,741 persons) to 7,705,281 persons from 2010 to 2020. The population of all counties in Washington grew except for Columbia and Ferry counties, which had small decreases in population. The five counties with the highest percentage growth in population are Franklin (23.8 percent), Clark (18.3 percent), Benton (18.1 percent), King (17.5 percent), and Thurston (16.9 percent). The largest counties with populations of over 500,000 are King (2,269,675), Pierce (921,130), Snohomish (827,957), Spokane (539,339), and Clark (503,311).
A full 78.2 percent of Washington’s population (or 6,024,689 persons) was over the age of 18. The five counties with the largest proportion of persons under 18 are Adams (33.9 percent), Franklin (31.5 percent), Grant (28.5percent), Yakima (28.2 percent), and Benton (26.2 percent).
Washington’s total minority population, defined as all persons of Hispanic or Latino origin plus non-Hispanic non-White races, now comprises 36.2 percent of the state’s population. A full demographic breakdown for race and ethnicity in Washington and changes over time is represented in the chart below.
Public participation is important in helping us better understand district boundaries that may divide communities.
After submission of the plan by the commission, the legislature shall have the next thirty days during any regular or special session to amend the commission's plan. If the legislature amends the commission's plan the legislature's amendment must be approved by an affirmative vote in each house of two-thirds of the members elected or appointed thereto, and may not include more than two percent of the population of any legislative or congressional district.
The plan approved by the commission, with any amendment approved by the legislature, shall be final upon approval of such amendment or after expiration of the time provided for legislative amendment by subsection (2) of this section whichever occurs first, and shall constitute the districting law applicable to this state for legislative and congressional elections, beginning with the next elections held in the year ending in two.
Want to Learn More? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.
If you wish to file a public records request, Washington law (Chapter 42.56 RCW) requires that identifiable public records be made available promptly to members of the public for inspection and copying upon request. Since the 2021-22 Redistricting Commission has ceased to exist, please contact the Secretary of State Elections Office for assistance.
Commission Approved maps were amended by the Washington State Legislature on February 8th, 2022.