The Redistricting Commission consisted of four voting members — two Democrats and two Republicans — appointed by legislative caucus leaders. The Democratic appointees were former legislator Brady Piñero Walkinshaw and state labor-council leader April Sims; Republican commissioners were former state legislators Joe Fain and Paul Graves.
By law, at least three of the four had to agree on new political maps by Nov. 15. After going into a scheduled public meeting via Zoom at 7 p.m. the night of the deadline, the commissioners went into closed-door caucuses, which drew criticism. They then voted hastily just before midnight without showing the maps they just voted on.
Commissioners defended their chaotic final hours of work at a news conference last month, saying it was hampered by a late 2020 Census, limitations caused by the coronavirus pandemic and technological issues such as crashing computers.
But all four commissioners agreed the tardy maps that were ultimately produced had their full support and should be considered by the Supreme Court justices.
In a FAQ document released along with the order, the court noted that the commissioners vote for the plan came before the constitutional deadline, and that the missed their statutory deadline to transmit the plan to the legislature by 13 minutes.
“The court is making no judgments about those cases at this time,” the document states.
House Republican leader J.T. Wilcox said the court properly respected the process and the institution and made the right decision. He said clearly there were issues with transparency related to the final vote, and he said a decade from now when the commission is tasked with this process once again, he hoped “they don’t forget how this looked to everyone.”
The redrawn maps for the 10 U.S. House districts and 49 state legislative districts will be in place for the next decade, starting with the 2022 midterm elections.
Washington didn’t gain a new U.S. House seat following the latest census, and currently, Washington has seven Democratic U.S. House members and three Republicans. The state Legislature is controlled by Democrats.