Increasing Public Participation in Drawing Districts

New legislation in Olympia could make Washington state’s redistricting process more fair and open, with more citizen involvement in the final plan. Dan Frizzell from the House Democratic Caucus has that story.

This is the year of the national census, which means next year will see states drawing new legislative and congressional districts based on that census data. In some states, majority lawmakers use gerrymandering to steamroll the minority, but Washington has for decades been a leader in bipartisan redistricting. Democratic State Representative Mike Pellicciotti says there’s still room for improvement, though, and he’s working on legislation to give citizens a bigger say in how districts are redrawn.

PELLICCIOTTI: “It’s an opportunity for us to do what the public expects and make a process that is as transparent and trustworthy as possible and since we only work on this issue every 10 years, what we establish now won’t be improved upon for another 10 years. This is really a chance to move things forward.”

Pellicciotti, who represents Federal Way in the state House, introduced a bill Wednesday that greatly increases public input during redistricting, including at least two citizen forums in every congressional district while the bi-partisan redistricting commission drafts its preliminary plan. That bill gets a public hearing January 22 in the House Committee on State Government. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.