Tag: washington state redistricting (Page 1 of 2)

Gerrymandering not a problem for Washington state, new analysis finds.

Gerrymandering is real, but is it a problem in Washington state? New analysis finds, no, not so much.

You may have noticed a topic emerging in fringe political conversations, perhaps to be forced through into the mainstream dialogue just in time for the 2020 election: gerrymandering.

As gerrymandering could be a backdrop issue used by the left to frame a narrative the next election cycle – messaging like ‘systemic inequities in how we do elections’ is your early warning code to know that the issue is being played – it’s fair for Washington state voters to ask whether their state’s districting process is working.

In its most blatant manifestation, gerrymandering – the drawing of political boundaries to exaggerate political advantages for a particular party – is a means for a dominant party to protect its own power. “Packing” and “cracking” districts for that purpose is a data-driven enterprise, and so it makes sense to use a data-driven analysis to determine whether it’s being done.

A new analysis done by the data science group at Voter Science asked a simple question: “Is Washington state gerrymandered?” The group’s finding was, no, at least in the way the legislative district map has been drawn.*

The Voter Science statistical analysis method follows accepted techniques to identify what are called “efficiency gaps” – patterns in elections results in legislative and statewide races that indicate districting has been manipulated. The complete report can be read on the group’s blog and boils down to the following conclusions:

  1. The legislative results are within proximity of the statewide governor results. And when measured across a wide range of candidates, there is no consistent advantage from district boundaries over a pure statewide vote.
  2. The house and senate GOP caucus performances do perform exceptionally well – particularly compared to the statewide performance of most GOP candidates. But this appears to be more due to the caucuses picking candidates to fit their district rather than gerrymandering.
  3. If we deliberately create theoretical gerrymandered districts via computer simulation, the potential GOP advantage would be significantly higher than what we witness.

The data and analysis are well worth diving into for those interested in becoming more educated on a subject that could become a talking point in the near future.


  • Full disclosure: I have a minority stake in Voter Science, but I had no role in developing these findings)
[image credit: ventanamedia]

Scroll, Zoom and Inspect Washington’s New Political Maps

The Washington State Redistricting Commission’s final plan for redrawing the political maps for congressional and legislative representation were published shortly after the commission took its vote late Sunday evening.

Using the Google Earth overlays provided by the Commission on its website, NW Daily Marker has created an interactive map of each set of district boundaries (below) for our readers as well as maps of the current district maps for comparison.

Washington State Congressional District Map, as adopted by the Redistricting Commission on January 1st, 2012:

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Current Washington State Congressional District Map:

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Washington State Legislative District Map, as adopted by the Redistricting Commission on January 1st, 2012:

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Current Washington State Legislative District Map:

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WA Redistricting: New Maps Approved After a Long, Slow Ride and a Very Bumpy Last Mile

After a year-long process, the four voting members of the bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission unanimously approved new political maps for congressional and legislative districts midday Sunday, with only hours remaining until the legal deadline to submit the new boundaries to the state legislature for review.

Talks had stalled during the previous week on the issue of how Hispanics should be represented in Yakima’s 15th legislative district. The 2010 U.S. Census data shows significant growth in Hispanic populations in Central and Eastern Washington, concentrations that makes the formation of a district made with a majority of minority residents a naturally occurring thing.

(State law instructs the redistricting commission not to make decisions to benefit or disadvantage specific individuals or groups.)

During most of the talks around drawing legislative districts in the eastern half of the state, Democrat and Republican teams hovered in 54% territory as a fair figure, but the map offered to Republicans on Wednesday morning by House Democratic appointee Dean Foster crafted a district with more than 60% Hispanic residents.

The most dramatic moment in the commission’s year-long deliberation came last Friday when House Republican Tom Huff presented an Eastern Washington map previously offered by Foster as a compromise, and moved to have the commission vote. Foster voted against the map he had previously presented along with Senate Democratic appointee Tim Ceis, while both Republicans vote in favor of adopting the plan that would have drawn the 15th legislative district with close to a 53% Hispanic population.

The final demographics for the 15th legislative district give it slightly more than a 54% Hispanic population, up from around 47% as it is currently drawn. If Yakima was the point of demarcation in the political tug-of-war between the parties, Republicans appear to be the ones still standing. In particular, if the national Republican agenda begins to take up the banner of rational immigration reform, districts like the 15th could be one place that a renewal in the relationship between ethnic communities and the GOP begins.

The commission also approved the earlier congressional map presented by Senate Republican Slade Gorton and Senate Democratic appointee Tim Ceis that drew the new 10th congressional district in Thurston and Pierce Counties and reconfigured the 9th congressional district of Rep. Adam Smith (D) to become the first majority-minority congressional seat in state history. Western Washington’s legislative maps previously offered by the House and Senate teams were also part of today’s agreement with only small changes made for reconciliation purposes.

There will still be minor tweaks made during reviews by the Legislature and auditors, but changes from this point are restricted to very small percentages in population and the shapes of the districts as drawn by the commission cannot be changed. In short, Washington State, these are your districts until this process repeats after the 2020 U.S. Census.

Google versions of the maps adopted by the commission are now available for viewing here at NW Daily Marker.


[photo credit: dview.us]

WA Redistricting Commission Meets New Year’s Day for Final Effort on New Political Maps

The Washington State Redistricting Commission failed to produce new maps for congressional and legislative districts by the close of 2011 and will reconvene this morning for one last day of talks to try and beat the legal deadline of midnight January 1st.

A new proposal for Eastern Washington’s legislative districts was presented late Saturday, just before the commission adjourned shortly after 10:00 p.m. Although demographic data was not posted to the commission website, the shape of boundaries can be observed to support information from a source on the commission that there has been some compromise made on differences between House Democratic appointee Dean Foster and House Republican appointee Tom Huff on how to represent the growing Hispanic population in Yakima’s 15th legislative district.

Saturday’s debate was also said to have shifted to the 3rd legislative district in Spokane, the home of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, according to a source on the commission. The 3rd legislative district has been a redoubt for Democrats in Eastern Washington, sitting as it surrounded by solid Republican territory.

The commission’s Sunday morning meeting reconvened at 10:40am and the members and staff are expected to work as long as necessary to submit new maps to the state legislature and avoid handing the entire process over to the State Supreme Court.


[photo credit: Sister72]

WA Redistricting: Republican Redistricting Commissioner Blasts Democrat for Last-Minute Political Games

The Washington State Redistricting Commission adjourned Friday after a long day spent hashing over minute reconciliation details on areas of consensus agreement, while leaving the unresolved issues regarding Eastern Washington’s legislative maps out of the conversation.

The only discussion around what House Democratic appointee Dean Foster has called an “impasse” took place shortly after the commission convened when House Republican commissioner Tom Huff put a motion on the floor to have the four voting members make an up and down decision on an Eastern Washington proposal that had previously been made by Foster. The motion was approved and the vote was taken with both Huff and Senate Republican appointee Slade Gorton voting to approve Foster’s map and Senate Democratic appointee Tim Ceis and Foster voting nay.

Yes, you read that correctly. Foster voted against his own map, a turn of events that could be perceived as evidence of bad faith negotiation underscored by Huff’s solid presentation (click to open PDF file) during Thursday’s meeting of the timeline of talks specific to his and Foster’s bone of contention – the 14th and 15th legislative districts in and around Yakima and how to recognize a growing population of Hispanic residents in that area.

According to Huff’s account, Republicans have been on a wild goose chase for weeks, attempting to compromise on the appropriate percentage of Hispanics to draw into the 15th, a district that minority voting rights groups have made clear they would like to see made with a majority Hispanic population.

Although Huff and Foster seemed to have been circling around a population figure in the low to mid-50 percentile, just prior to Wednesday’s meeting Foster put a map on the table drawing a district with more than a 60% Hispanic population, according to first-hand sources, and left Republicans a ‘take it or leave it’ offer. When Huff passed, Foster notified the commission during Wednesday’s public meeting of what he called an “impasse,” and suggested that the process would best be handled during subsequent public sessions.

The turn of events leaves many with a very bad taste in their mouth for a process that had, until now, kept partisanship to a minimum.

In a statement House Republican appointed commissioner Tom Huff gave to the House Republican Caucus, he made clear his frustration about Foster’s decision today to disapprove of the same map he only recently felt was worthy of consideration.

“Forty eight hours ago, this eastern Washington proposal was presented to me by the Democrat commissioner and I assumed it to be a genuine offer made in good faith,” said Huff.

“I can’t explain why he turned down his own map. He drew it. He offered it. Then he walked away from his own plan and called it an impasse. I can only assume they are not interested in reaching a deal and are using eleventh hour tactics to game the politics of this process. It’s disheartening and very frustrating.”

Huff’s outlook for a tidy resolution to the commission’s year-long process for redistricting – one that has cost taxpayers close to $1 million – is understandably pessimistic considering the perceived breakdown of fidelity within the commission.

“My counterpart and I successfully negotiated 16 districts in Western Washington and nine of the 11 eastern Washington districts,” Huff said. “When we got down to two districts, it mysteriously unraveled. We are at risk of putting this entire process in jeopardy.”

The commission will meet again on 10:30 a.m. Saturday and have scheduled a session for Sunday. In order to meet its legal deadline, three of the four voting members of the commission must agree on congressional and legislative maps by midnight of January 1st, in order to present them to the Legislature.


Dude, Where’s My District? Our Google-Based Interactive Map of Proposed Congressional Lines

While four partisan appointed members of the state redistricting commission have begun to engage in open session political maneuvering around pivotal legislative districts in Eastern Washington, the tension has not yet transferred into any talk to revisit the congressional map proposed by Senate Republican appointee Slade Gorton and Senate Democratic appointee Tim Ceis earlier this week.

Feel cautiously safe then to use this handy Google-based version of the commission’s congressional plan to zoom in for street level detail and see exactly how the lines have been drawn in your locality and around the state.

View Larger Map


[h/t to @PatBell]


WA Redistricting: Commission Tries to Jumpstart Eastern Washington Leg Talks

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Redistricting Commission is meeting Thursday morning to discuss how to best resolve an impasse between the Republican and Democratic commissioners working to define legislative districts in Eastern Washington. The announcement that a significant roadblock

After each of the commission’s four partisan appointees released their proposals in September, House Democratic appointee Dean Foster and House Republican appointee Tom Huff received the assignment to produce final proposals for Southwest and Eastern Washington.

With the tickertape still sailing Wednesday morning after the day’s main event – the presentation by Senate Senate Republican appointee Slade Gorton and Senate Democratic appointee Tim Ceis of a new congressional map and the reveal of where the state’s new 10th congressional district would be situated – Foster announced that talks on Eastern Washington’s legislative redistricting had stalled.

The inability to come to an agreement on Eastern Washington’s districts has the potential to erase the work done by the commission over the course of a year and at the cost to taxpayers of roughly $1 million. Should the commission fail to vote approval of a package containing a congressional and a legislative map, the job of creating final maps will fall to the State Supreme Court.

The cause of the breakdown, according to Foster, was a key difference in how the districts of Yakima in Central Washington would be constructed to create at least one district that would contain a majority Hispanic population.

Republican sources, however, paint a very different picture, telling NW Daily Marker that the Democratic team has pushed forward several demographic requirements for Hispanic representation, presenting a moving target that Republicans chased until, reportedly, the Democratic team made a last minute adjustment to the desired demographic target that exceeded all previous numbers put forward by Foster’s team.

In Huff’s comments during Thursday’s open meeting, he described in documented detail the timeline of negotiations with Foster, a history that appears to show bad faith on the part of Democrats in reaching agreement on Yakima’s 14th and 15th legislative districts. The straw that broke the Republican’s resolve to compromise was the dramatic shift in Foster’s proposal between December 21st and Wednesday morning, according to Huff who states Foster began with a proposal for a 50.49% Hispanic 15th district only to drop his proposal containing a 61.46% Hispanic 15th district proposal on the table in the eleventh hour of talks. Huff’s proposal of December 23rd was for a 50.61% Hispanic 15th district.

Huff also indicated that he would be willing to revisit the 29th legislative district in Western Washington, a district would have been a majority-minority district based on Huff’s initial proposal.

Cherry Cayabyab speaking for United for Fair Representation, expressed appreciation to Huff for proposing to reopen talks on the 29th district.


[photo credit: CrazySphinx]

WA Redistricting: Commission Hits Landmine in Talks Over Eastern Washington Legislative Districts

OLYMPIA – Washington’s redistricting commission released what is likely to be its final proposal for reapportioning the state’s residents into equally-populated congressional districts Wednesday morning, including plans for a majority-minority district in South King County, and situating the new 10th district around the state’s capital.

But all of the work made to reach agreement on congressional maps could be erased by an eleventh-hour development in what most observers would presume to be a sleeper – legislative redistricting in Eastern Washington.

After the morning meeting in which congressional maps were unveiled, the commission reconvened to discuss progress toward drawing the lines in the less-populated eastern half of Washington State. As soon as the meeting reconvened, House Democrat appointee Dean Foster announced that he and his counterpart in the Eastern Washington negotiations – House Republican appointee Tom Huff – had reached an impasse worthy of throwing the work over to the full commission.

If the commission cannot achieve a consensus on both of the maps it is tasked to create — congressional and legislative — neither map can be adopted. If the commission does not approve a set of maps, the entire process would be thrown over to the State Supreme Court.

Huff’s response did not camouflage his frustration.

“I am deeply disappointed in the process,” Huff said, adding later that the supposed standoff appeared to be “well scripted.”

The bone of contention Huff and Foster are getting hackles up is how to best apportion districts to recognize growing Hispanic resident populations in Eastern Washington. All of the maps proposed by each of the four commissioners on September 13th contained at least one legislative district that had a majority population of minority residents. Although Foster’s initial proposal for the pivotal 14th and 15th legislative districts in Yakima from September 13th is remarkably similar to the most recent map put forward by Huff, Foster’s substantial last minute changes tug at a delicately balanced arrangement of political interests much like a hasty pull of a Jenga block.

The commission recessed after a brief and tense interchange in order to give each team time to gather accompanying data for the various maps to be discussed. Upon reconvening, Huff suggested that the commission adjourn for the day to ingest the data and engage in further talks — Senate Democrat appointee Tim Ceis intervened and requested further conversation before adjourning and also added a new concern about how legislative districts in Spokane are shaping up.

The commission is scheduled to meet again Thursday at 10:30am.


[photo credit: indi.ca]

WA Redistricting: Congressional Map Proposal of Bipartisan Team Released

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Redistricting Commission announced its proposal for a new congressional map this morning and made public the two maps below for review.

The first map shows the proposal for the entire state map and the second is an inset of the Puget Sound region showing the position of a new 10th congressional district and the creation of a majority-minority seat from Rep. Adam Smith’s 9th district in South King County.

Visit the Redistricting Commission website for detailed state and inset maps with zoom capability.

A more complete analysis of today’s map will is being compiled. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to be notified as soon as it is available.


WA Redistricting: Democrats Fool Minorities Again, No Open Congressional Majority-Minority Seat on Final Map

Surprises may be in store for politicos and voters when the State Redistricting Commission meets Wednesday morning in Olympia, reportedly to reveal the final congressional map agreed on by at least three of the commission’s four voting members, based on early information from a source with the commission.

Although the precise precinct-by-precinct details of the map are being withheld, the map produced in talks between Senate Democratic appointee Tim Ceis and Senate Republican appointee Slade Gorton and described to us includes political upsides for both parties heading into a critical election season, but has ignored the comments made most frequently at public hearings held across the state.

Certainly, changes in many districts are noteworthy, and will generate both thunderous applause and storms of controversy through the corridors of political power.

For example, Rep. Jay Inslee’s (D) bid to become governor is still an uncertain proposition, but renovation is already underway in the 1st congressional district he is vacating. No longer straddling the Puget Sound, the 1st will reportedly stay on the mainland and reach far north into what is currently the 2nd congressional district. The changes draw in many among the throng of potential Democratic and Republican candidates seeking to succeed Inslee, creating what should be the liveliest congressional primary in the state next year.

A substantial remodel is also said to be planned for the seat held by Rep. Dave Reichert (R) whose 8th congressional district will lose a large portion of its current stake in Pierce and South King Counties and drive over the Cascades into the Eastern Washington counties of Chelan and Kittitas. Recent voter trends suggest the redesigned 8th should still lean Republican, fueling speculation that Reichert might mount a challenge to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) next year.

The map the public sees this morning will give almost everyone something to talk about, almost that is except for an active group of residents who, ironically, have been talking to the commission since the beginning of the redistricting process early this year.

Since early in Washington State’s 2011 redistricting process, representatives from minority groups showed up at public hearings, repeatedly calling for the creation of a congressional district containing a majority population of minority residents.

Lamentations organized by minority voting rights group OneAmerica complained of poor congressional representation in areas with larger minority populations, and high on their wish list was to situate the new 10th congressional district in a majority-minority area to give candidates from those communities an opportunity to run for the open seat.

OneAmerica took the initiative to draw a “Unity Map,” placing the dream district in the area south of Seattle down to the Pierce County line and eastward into the communities feeding the Highway 167 corridor.

When proposed maps were introduced by each of the four redistricting commissioners in mid-September, all but one commissioner – House Democratic appointee Dean Foster – did not feature some form of majority-minority district in the south King County area. (House Republican appointee Tom Huff drew his proposed 10th congressional seat to almost the exact specifications of the Unity Map.)

After all the build-up – nada. Well, almost nada.

The final congressional map said to be agreed to by the four-man commission is reported to place the wide open new 10th congressional district in Thurston County (the area the Democratic establishment has sought to procure for former state representative Denny Heck to wage his second attempt to win a seat in the U.S. House), while the 9th congressional district is drawn into South King County and portions of the lower eastside of Lake Washington, giving minority activists the majority-minority district they desired but with baggage in the form of incumbent Democrat Rep. Adam Smith (D).

Some may see the agreement reached concerning the creation of a majority-minority district as half a loaf, an appeasement born of the need to protect Smith as an incumbent and launch Heck’s congressional career. If minorities respond unfavorably to these developments, it could be one more sign that the political marriage of convenience between minorities and the Democratic Party is becoming less expedient.


[photo credit: baboon™]

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