Our partner organization, Redistricting Justice for Washington, is a leading voice in the 2021 Washington State redistricting process. For over a year, we have been advocating for fair districts that put people over politicians, keep communities of color and tribes together, and stay accountable to community input from across the state.
Below is a compilation of our coalition’s news coverage in November, when new districts were set to be announced by the Redistricting Commission.
South Seattle Emerald: State Supreme Court to draw redistricting lines after Commission misses deadline
“Our goal remains the same: draw fair maps for Communities of Color, while engaging the community in the process,” Andrew Hong, co-lead of Redistricting Justice for Washington (RJW), a coalition of more than two dozen community groups and nonprofits, said in a statement on Tuesday, Nov. 16.
While People of Color make up about 35% of the State’s population, only one of the State’s 49 legislative districts — the 37th, which includes much of southeast Seattle, from the Central Area to Renton — currently has an eligible voting population that’s majority People of Color. It’s a similar story among U.S. House districts in the state: Only voters in the 9th District, which overlies much of South Seattle as well as southern Bellevue and all of Mercer Island, are majority People of Color.
Seattle Times: Washington’s redistricting commission emerges Tuesday night, post-deadline, with agreement on boundaries. What’s next?
Andrew Hong, lead organizer for Redistricting Justice for Washington, a progressive coalition that had pushed for the majority citizen voting-age Latino legislative district — said it was “unfortunate” that the Republican commissioners did not agree to such a plan, “and showed no intention of doing so throughout the process.”
Crosscut: In a first, court will decide new WA redistricting plan as commission falters
Redistricting Justice for Washington, a coalition of groups representing communities of color, also expressed disappointment in how the commission went about its work. In a statement Tuesday, the coalition said the commission’s final meeting “lacked transparency and was full of confusion.”
Additionally, the Redistricting Justice for Washington coalition said it is prepared to take legal action, if necessary, to ensure the state’s new redistricting maps comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. In recent years, voting rights cases brought in the city of Yakima, as well as Yakima County, have led to changes in voting systems that aim to ensure Latino voters can elect their preferred candidates.
Washington State Wire: The questions surrounding Washington’s redistricting process
Of the roughly five hours commissioners spent in the meeting, which was supposed to be public, about a half hour was visible to the public. Andrew Hong, the statewide director for Redistricting Justice for Washington, said he was concerned about how the meeting was handled.
“My initial thoughts are I think we’re all disappointed with the lack of transparency and the confusing nature of last night’s meeting,” Hong said.
While it’s unclear what took so long for commissioners to iron out Monday night, Colin Cole, policy director for More Equitable Democracy, said the results came as little surprise.
“This was always a possibility in my mind,” Cole said. “A big portion of it, I think, circles around the Central Washington scenario, around the need to make a Voting Rights Act-compliant district.”
Seattle Times: “Washington’s redistricting commissioners confident they’ll meet deadline, but face pushback over South Seattle plans”
South Seattle has “vastly different priorities than the rest of Seattle,” said Andrew Hong, statewide director for Redistricting Justice for Washington, a coalition of progressive groups lobbying for a more diverse 9th District map.
In an interview, Hong called all of the initial maps “inadequate” and said Democratic commissioners have to some extent prioritized protecting incumbents, such as U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, the longtime congressman from the 9th District.