Washington’s Redistricting Commission has no federal census numbers yet with which to begin drawing political boundaries. But the committee will soon hold a series of public meetings to give people a chance to talk about how they want the commission to proceed when those numbers are available.
One of those forums for people in the state’s Fifth Congressional District will be held Saturday afternoon.
Normally, the Census Bureau would get at least preliminary data from their canvassing efforts to state and local redistricting committees by April. But Covid has delayed the delivery of those numbers until at least August.
Members of Washington’s Redistricting Committee have been limited to considering issues such as what kinds of tools they should use to manipulate data once they get it.
Chairwoman Sarah Augustine says the board is also interested in identifying topics and trends people want them to consider.
“Sometimes a municipality will say, ‘We would like to be in our own district. We don’t want our municipality to be divided into all these different districts,'" she said.
And though there are no real-life numbers yet, Augustine says members are already thinking about creating maps and moving boundaries.
“We’re also providing an opportunity on our website, for the first time ever, to have a redistricting mapping tool available on our website so that anybody, a group or even an individual, can take that tool and create a map and a narrative with that map and you can submit it right on our webpage and tell us what you think the map should look like," she said.
On Saturday afternoon at 1, Augustine will preside over a virtual meeting for people in Washington’s Fifth Congressional District. A public comment time is scheduled but, here’s the catch, you have to register by Friday at noon to reserve your place to speak. You can do that at the redistricting committee’s website.
A similar meeting for people in the Fourth Congressional District will be held the morning of Saturday, June 5.