Members of the bipartisan redistricting commission met for the first time Tuesday, starting what will be a lengthy process to determine the boundaries of Washington state’s new Congressional district.
Washington was awarded a 10th congressional seat after 2010 census figures released last month showed the state’s population had grown by 14 percent in the past decade. The commission must submit new congressional and legislative boundary maps by the end of the year to be approved by the Legislature and used for the 2012 elections.
The citizen commission is composed of two Democrats and two Republicans and overseen by a member-elected chairman. It was created nearly 20 years ago to relieve the Legislature of the exhaustive and heavily political task of redrawing boundaries, which must be done every decade with new census numbers.
The four commissioners are chosen by the four caucuses in the Legislature, so that each party is equally represented.
Washington’s population grew by 14.1 percent since 2000, to 6,724,540, which amounts to 830,419 additional residents.
The 435 seats in the U.S. House are reapportioned every 10 years among the states based on population shifts. Washington last added a House seat after the 1990 census. That seat, in the 9th Congressional District, is held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Smith.
After the commission redraws the congressional boundaries, each of Washington state’s 10 districts will have about 670,000 people.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners chose former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton as temporary chairman.