Court-ordered changes to legislative districts

Why are some legislative districts changing?

On August 10, 2023, a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington found that the legislative district map, as drawn by the Washington State Redistricting Commission, abridged the ability of Hispanic voters in the Yakima Valley from having an equal opportunity to elect “candidates of their choice” in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

This ruling created two pathways for a new remedial legislative district map to be submitted and accepted by the court: 1) The Legislature had the option of reconvening the Washington State Redistricting Commission, or 2) in the absence of the Legislature fulfilling this duty, the parties to the case could submit a proposed remedial legislative district map to the court, in which the court would evaluate the map with the help of an appointed expert.

Despite Republican calls to reconvene the Washington State Redistricting Commission, majority party Democrats in the Legislature declined to take this action. As a result, the process of creating and adopting a new remedial legislative district map was left largely to the court and partisan special interests.

On March 15, 2024, a new remedial legislative district map was adopted by the court. Barring any further legal developments, this will serve as Washington’s legislative district map until the next census when the Washington State Redistricting Commission will be reconvened in 2031.

On March 25, 2024, a panel of federal judges denied a request for an emergency stay to block the new remedial legislative district map imposed by the court based on lack of standing of the petitioners. The court did not weigh in on the merits of the arguments, but only said the petitioners did not demonstrate that they are entitled to seek the relief. The underlying legal challenge before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit can continue.

On April 2, 2024, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan denied a request for an emergency stay. The underlying legal challenge before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit can continue.

What does the new legislative map look like?

The new remedial legislative district map makes changes to 13 legislative districts and moves roughly 500,000 individuals into new legislative districts. The map further dilutes the Hispanic majority within the Voting Rights Act district (15th Legislative District created by Redistricting Commission: 52.6% Hispanic CVAP | 14th Legislative District created by new map: 50.2% Hispanic CVAP).

Legislative districts in eastern Washington saw changes due to population shift over the mountains and changes to Yakima Valley geography. Legislative districts in eastern Washington saw a cascading ripple effect of the 17th Legislative District moving east and the 12th Legislative District moving west.

All state representatives will continue to represent their current legislative districts through 2024.

You can find more details on the new remedial legislative district map by clicking the image below. Note: The link takes you to an external, non-legislative website that asks you to agree to a Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.