Local redistricting efforts still on schedule despite census delays

Feb 17, 2021

The biggest local redistricting effort will be the Spokane County Commissioner Districts which will be expanded from three to five districts.
Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Despite delays in census data caused by the pandemic, the effort to redistrict the state, and the Spokane area will soon be underway.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said despite those delays, state law requires redistricting to start this spring. The deadline for most new boundaries is the end of November.

On Friday the U.S. Census Bureau announced that population data it planned to release to states on March 31 will be pushed back to Sept. 30.

“It’s definitely going to make the redistricting efforts a bit more challenging, by not getting the details until very late in the process,” she said, “but it’s still very doable.”

This year committees will come together for most governments to redraw district lines and boundaries. That will impact who can vote in congressional, legislative and local county elections for the next decade.

One of the biggest local redistricting efforts will be for Spokane County Commissioner Districts. A law that required the county to expand from three to five districts with a commissioner elected to represent each one will go into effect this year.

Marcus Riccelli, who represents Spokane in the state legislature, said local legislatures are committed to making the decision in the Spokane area. He said once the committee members are chosen, the committee will look very similar to how the state draws district lines. It will also aim to be bipartisan.

Local legislators have until March 1 to appoint committee members and have not yet. If they miss the deadline, leaders of the state political party caucuses will appoint people to redraw the county’s districts.

Dalton said once local redistricting committees are assembled, they will not have very much new data to work with because of the census delays, but they will seek input from the public.

“It’s really important for the public to participate because they will live with these lines for the next 10 years,” she said.

Committees will have at least one public hearing before submitting new district recommendations.