Redistricting & Census Information

What is the census?

The census is a constitutionally required program to create an accurate count of all people in the United States. The U.S. Census takes place every ten years.

What is the data the census collected used for?

The data will be used to determine how many seats each state has in the House of Representatives. Additionally, the data will be given to the State Redistricting Commission to assist in the redistricting process.

The census data is also used to determine how to distribute some federal funds, and will be available for research projects.

How will the Census collect the information?

The Census hopes that most Americans will fill out an online form to provide the information for their household. Other areas will receive postcards to fill out and mail, and areas with historical low rates of response will have door-to-door information gathering.

How can I help?

The most important thing someone can do to help the Census is ensuring that you provide the Census with the most accurate information for your household.

Additionally, many government organizations are hosting commissions to help the Census. Look for one in your local area.

What is redistricting?

Redistricting is the process of changing boundaries of voting districts so that all districts have the same number of people and keep groups together that have minority interests in government. This is how we make sure that everyone has equal representation in government.

Why redistrict?

As states and communities grow and change, peoples' representation in government begins to get out of balance. Redistricting brings everything back into balance to make sure that every Washingtonian is represented fairly in the state Legislature and the U.S. Congress. The U.S. and state constitutions require that each congressional and legislative district represent roughly equal numbers of people and keep groups who have common minority interests together to make sure political power is fairly distributed.

Has Washington always had a Redistricting Commission?

No. Until 1983, the state Legislature was in charge of redrawing the boundaries of Washington's legislative and Congressional voting districts. But it was not a fair process, so the voters of the state approved a constitutional amendment to give redistricting authority to an independent Redistricting Commission. The first time the Redistricting Commission redrew voting district boundaries was in 1991.

How are the commissioners appointed and who may serve?

Every 10 years, following completion of the U.S. Census, the Redistricting Commission is formed. The commission has five members: two from each of the majority party caucuses (this year, two Democrats and two Republicans), and a non-partisan, non-voting Chair.

A commissioner may be any registered state voter who meets the following requirements:

  • Is not a current registered lobbyist, or former lobbyist within one year before appointment
  • Is not a current elected official or an elected state, district, or county party official
  • Has not held such a position for two years prior to appointment
  • Will not campaign for elective office or actively participate in or contribute to a state or federal candidate running for office
  • Will not campaign for a state legislative office or for Congress for two years after the new redistricting plan takes effect.

The 2021 redistricting project will be the fourth time the Commission has formed for this task. The Commission is dissolved when the redistricting is done.

What criteria have to be considered in redrawing voting district boundaries?

State and federal law tells us how the redrawing of voting district boundaries must happen. Legislative and Congressional voting district boundaries must be drawn to:

  • Encompass, as nearly as can be done (or is “practicable”) equal numbers of people.
  • Comply with the Voting Rights Act to ensure that minorities have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.
  • Make sure that parts of a district are not physically separated (except by bodies of water, where required).
  • Make sure that, to the extent possible, boundaries of cities, counties, neighborhoods and communities that have common interests are respected, and their division minimized.
  • Make sure they do not favor or discriminate against any incumbent, candidate, or political party.

What preparations are being made for the 2021 Redistricting Commission?

The Secretary of State's office is preparing for the 2021 Redistricting Commission by ensuring all of our state and local partners have the highest quality data. We are also partnered with the Office of Financial Management to suggest Census block boundaries based on voting precincts and city boundaries. We have prepared a timeline of our redistricting process.

What changes are expected for the 2021 Redistricting project?

While the Census has not happened, the Elections department has prepared maps for both Congressional Districts and Legislative Districts.

Please note that these maps are estimates based on data provided by the Office of Financial Management and are not final results. They are intended to be a representation of population trends in the State of Washington based on incomplete data.

How can I make my voice heard during the redistricting project?

You can ensure you answer the Census questions as accurately as possible to ensure the Redistricting Commission will have the most accurate data.

During the redistricting project, many public meetings will be held to both receive public comment and to comment on the proposed plans. Attending one of these meetings and leaving a comment will make sure your suggestions will be considered. If you can't make one of these events, your views can be left by email or phone.

Additionally, during the Redistricting project, the commission will be accepting map proposals from the Public. While the exact method of submitting a proposal has yet to be determined, you can begin planning now.

How do I get in contact with the Redistricting Commission?

While the committee hasn't been selected, you can send an email to [email protected] for the latest updates on the preparations.

Additionally, if you wish to speak to those responsible for the selection of the commission, you can contact your state legislator. The state legislative website has an app to find your representatives.