Washington state’s independent redistricting commission said late Tuesday it had reached a bipartisan agreement on new congressional and legislative district lines just hours after admitting they had failed to meet a state-mandated deadline.
In a statement posted online, commission chair Sarah Augustine acknowledged the four voting members — two Republicans and two Democrats — had missed the deadline. In a subsequent tweet, the commission said it had in fact agreed to new maps, even after the deadline passed.
“The plan won the consensus of the voting members of the Commission but were not completed in the time prescribed by law thereby giving jurisdiction over the process and its outcome to the” state Supreme Court, the commission tweeted.
“While we acknowledge we missed the deadline for our maps to be considered by the [state legislature], we see no reason why the Court can’t do so,” Augustine said in a statement. “These maps reflect the input of thousands of people who took part in the process with us. It would be a shame to see these maps go unconsidered simply because the clock struck 12.”
The bizarre back-and-forth came after commissioners appeared at loggerheads before a Monday deadline. In an online Zoom hearing as the hours ticked by, commissioners frequently disappeared into private mode, which some good government advocates say appeared to violate open meeting laws.
The commission took a quick vote to approve maps before the midnight deadline, but they did not release those maps. On Tuesday, they acknowledged that no actual final agreement had been reached.
State law now punts authority to the state Supreme Court to complete the remapping process. But the court — ostensibly nonpartisan, though five of the nine members were appointed by Democratic governors to fill vacancies — is likely to give substantial weight to the commission’s final version.
The congressional district maps released by the commission late Tuesday appear to make only cosmetic changes to existing boundary lines.
Some voters in southern Washington are shuffled between districts currently held by Reps. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerAdams: Maternal health is in 'a crisis within a crisis' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Supreme Court weighs abortion restrictions MORE (R), Dan NewhouseDaniel (Dan) Milton NewhouseWashington redistricting panel reaches late agreement on new lines Maintain navigable waters rule to make homes more affordable Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada MORE (R) and Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersLawmakers focus on bridging broadband divide highlighted amid pandemic Democrats to target Section 230 in Haugen hearing Washington redistricting panel reaches late agreement on new lines MORE (R), three safe Republican seats. Rep. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneOn The Money — Build Back Better takes a 'Byrd Bath' New Democrat Coalition chair: Senate should pass bill before expanded child tax credit expires Washington state Supreme Court approves new congressional maps MORE’s (D) district will shrink into a safer Democratic seat. Rep. Kim SchrierKimberly (Kim) Merle SchrierWashington state Supreme Court approves new congressional maps Washington redistricting panel reaches late agreement on new lines House GOP campaign arm releases ad hitting Democrats on IRS bank-reporting proposal MORE (D), who won a surprisingly close reelection bid in 2020, will gain new voters in southern King County and eastern Snohomish County; it is not clear how exactly those voters will change Schrier’s reelection hopes.
Districts held by Reps. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithHouse passes 8B defense policy bill Lawmakers reach compromise on annual defense policy bill Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo MORE (D), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalLiberals ramp up pressure on Pelosi to discipline Boebert Tlaib offers tearful rebuke to anti-Muslim comments from Boebert Pressley offering measure condemning Boebert MORE (D), Marilyn Strickland (D) and Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerState Democrat group teams up with federal lawmakers to elect down-ballot candidates Washington redistricting panel reaches late agreement on new lines Democrats fear Virginia is precursor to House drubbing MORE (D) will remain largely unchanged, though Kilmer will inherit some of Strickland’s old voters in Mason County.
Washington state has one of the oldest redistricting commissions in the country, first used after the 1990 census. This year marks the first time commissioners failed to meet their state-mandated deadline to draw new lines.
In their statement Tuesday morning, commissioners blamed the delayed delivery of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, caused by litigation over some Trump-era decisions relating to the decennial census and by the coronavirus pandemic, for their inability to meet the deadline.