Voters were given another opportunity to determine the fate of redistricting when
legislators placed a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 1958 ballot.
The amendment was part of Senate Joint Resolution 12, which passed during the last
week of the 1957 session. The measure established a commission that would
automatically take over redistricting if the Legislature failed to reapportion during the
session immediately following the federal government’s release of a new decennial
census. The seven-member commission would include the secretary of state, three
gubernatorial appointees, a representative of the Washington State Supreme Court, and
The League of Women Voters, among other groups, backed the amendment, but critics
feared that some of its provisions might prevent citizens from filing reapportionment
initiatives in the future. The measure went down to defeat at the polls.
Throughout the 1950s, both the Legislature and the League believed they had the best
interests of the state at heart; both sides believed they had the best answer to the problem
of redistricting. The struggle posed the essential question of redistricting: who is best
qualified to oversee the process? Debate over the answer would continue for the next