REDISTRICTING 101
PEOPLE OVER POLITICIANS
TAKE A LOOK INSIDE

A Distribution of Voting Access & Political Power

Did you know that the size of your district influences your access to vote, the collective voice of your community when addressing its needs, and even the outcomes of local elections? It’s hard to believe city limits and county lines could impact so much. That’s why it’s so important to understand how and when your district changes, the ways in which those changes will impact you, and who is at the helm of changing it. In other words, redistricting. And while redistricting is intended to promote equity and fairness within a democratic system, there is a dark side to it in which political parties have been known to manipulate the redistricting process to benefit their own political interests.

If you’ve never heard this term before or thought much why you should care about it, you’re not alone. The guide below and the information provided on this page are here to help you get in the loop! 

OVERVIEW

Let's Go Over the Basics

The first step in understanding redistricting it to learn the basics! Check out the tabs below for the answers to some frequently asked questions to get you caught up to speed! To learn more, visit the WA State redistricting website by clicking the button below!

Redistricting is the process of redrawing voting district boundaries, based on population. The redistricting process is used to ensure there is an equal distribution of voting power and representation in our legislative chambers. This year, the Washington State Redistricting Commission will use the 2020 Census data to redraw the voting districts.

Every ten years, using the new Census data, voting district boundaries are adjusted over time.

Historically, discriminatory political practices, such as gerrymandering and redlining, have been used to manipulate district boundaries to favor political parties and wealthy people.

By dividing communities of color and low-income communities into separate districts, particular parties or groups gain an unfair political advantage. In result, these communities are left with little to no voting power and representation.

Our goal is to redraw districts to represent people, rather than politicians.

We can achieve this by ensuring that our communities’ voices are heard by the State’s Redistricting Commission. We need the Redistricting Commission to be accountable to communities of color and tribal nations by keeping them together. Keeping communities of interests together in the same district ensures these communities can have equitable and powerful representation and voting power.

  • Subscribe for updates
  • Sign up to attend or testify at the Redistricting Commission’s Public Outreach Meetings (we provide workshops and testimony support)
  • Sign up to support RJW (Redistricting Justice for Washington Coalition)
  • Attend RJW’s local mapping sessions for your region (check on website)
GLOSSARY

Terms & Definitions

Part of understanding the redistricting process includes knowing the key agencies, lingo, and references involved in the conversation!

The Washington State Redistricting Commission is a bipartisan group established for the purpose of redrawing legislative and congressional district boundaries.

The commission is made up of four (4) Commissioners who are appointed by the Legislature and a fifth member who serves as chairperson. The chairperson is selected by the commissioners, is non-partisan, and does not vote.

The Commission meets roughly every 10 years. During this time, members typically meet on a monthly basis until the redistricting process is complete. 

In 2021, a new commission will be appointed to ensure that Washington residents are fairly represented in Congress and the state Legislature.

Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency (ex: county, city, or country) to favor one political party or social class.

Two principal tactics are used in gerrymandering: “cracking” and “packing”

Cracking is the attempt to reduce the voting power of the opposing party’s supporters. Recent examples we’ve seen of this include imposing stricter voting requirements, reducing ballot drop-off locations, and attempting to eliminate voting by mail. 

Packing is the process of forcing the opposing party’s voting power into one district to reduce their voting power in other districts. An example of this is when the majority of the large cities in a state vote one way, however, the outcome of the election goes the opposite way because several small districts (without influence from the majority) votes added up to outnumber the larger district’s votes. 

Redlining is the systematic denial of various services to residents of specific, often racially associated, neighborhoods or communities, either explicitly or through the selective raising of prices.

Some examples of redlining include the denial of financial assistance services (like bank loans or insurance) for certain groups and not others; unaffordable, outdated, or inaccessible healthcare opportunities in certain neighborhoods; and even the deliberate act of building grocery stores and retail businesses being built impractically far away from targeted residential areas.