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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The state’s political districts will change this year. Here’s how the redistricting process will work:

Every 10 years, the country redraws its congressional and state legislative district boundaries using U.S. Census data.

In Washington, that process is done by the state Redistricting Commission, comprised of two Democrats, two Republicans and one nonpartisan, nonvoting chair.

Those members cannot currently or within the last two years be registered lobbyists or elected officials.

The 2021 commission includes Chair Sarah Augustine, executive director of the Dispute Resolution Center of Yakima and Kittitas Counties; Democratic appointees April Sims, secretary treasure of the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO, and Brady Piñero Walkinshaw, former state representative; and Republican appointees Paul Graves, former state representative, and Joe Fain, former state senator.

The first Redistricting Commission redrew boundaries in 1991. Until then, it was the Legislature that was charged with redistricting.

The commission is taking the 2020 U.S. Census data, which shows populations and demographics of the state, and determine the best way to redraw the state’s district boundaries.

According to state and federal laws, the districts must encompass equal numbers of people, as much as possible and ensure minorities have an equal opportunity to elect representatives. Districts cannot be physically separated, and boundaries for cities, counties and neighborhoods with common interests must be respected. They cannot favor any party or candidate.

According to the commission reports, the state’s legislative districts must include roughly 157,251 people each, and the Congressional districts must include roughly 770,528 people each.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.