Supreme Court lets Washington’s redistricting maps define voting boundaries

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OLYMPIA — The Washington Supreme Court said Friday it will not redraw the state’s voting districts, saying the Washington Redistricting Commission “met the constitutional deadline” to create new congressional and legislative maps that will govern the next 10 years of elections.

Despite admissions by the four-member commission that they worked past their Nov. 15 midnight deadline to complete the remapping, the nine justice said the commissioners “substantially complied with the statutory deadline to transmit the matter to the legislature,” leaving no place for the Supreme Court to take up the task as the law stipulates.

However, the unanimous court did not weigh in on questions of whether the new maps square with state or federal voting laws, leaving the door open to litigation that could still change the shape of the districts.

The decision means central Washington’s 12th Legislative District will no longer combine Chelan and Douglas counties, instead leaving most of Douglas inside the 7th District, which radiates northeast to Pend Oreille County and the eastern Washington border. The 12th would expand west and north to cross the Cascades into King County, all the way to the town of Monroe.

The Douglas County section included in the 12th happens to include the neighborhood of State Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, meanings Hawkins will still reside in the district he represents. State Reps. Keith Goehner and Mike Steele, both Chelan County Republicans, likewise would remain in the 12th.

The 8th Congressional District, now represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, gains much of rural Snohomish County in the new mapping, but loses East Wenatchee to the heavily rural 4th Congressional District. The 4th gains Klickitat County while shedding the larger portions of Adams, Franklin and Walla Walla counties.

The high court’s order also returns the matter to the Washington State Redistricting Commission for any followup work to transmit the plan to the legislature.