To Yakima Valley residents, it may seem like redistricting efforts are all around.
New political boundaries are being considered at the city, county and state level. Each adjustment may change how Yakima residents, especially Latinos, are represented in future elections.
Here are answers to common questions about redistricting discussions underway at the state and local level.
Why are the state’s districts being redrawn?
The data released by the U.S. Census Bureau every 10 years show changes in population and community demographics. The state redraws political boundaries to reflect those changes.
The bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission is creating new maps for the legislative and congressional districts using 2020 census data and public input.
The commission had public comment sessions over the summer to hear about redistricting priorities for communities across the state. Once census data became available, the four voting commissioners each published a preliminary map for legislative and congressional districts while continuing to hear public feedback.
Chair Sarah Augustine of White Swan, who is nonpartisan, said the commission received more input than ever from the public. People could comment by email, phone and directly on the commissioners’ proposed maps. The commission also published a mapping tool that allowed people to submit their own maps.
Three of the four voting members must agree on a legislative map and a congressional map by Nov. 15 at midnight. The final maps will then be sent to the Legislature for approval.
What is the difference between the legislative and congressional districts?
Each legislative district in the state elects one senator and two representatives to serve in the Legislature in Olympia. There are 49 legislative districts in Washington.
Each of the state’s 10 congressional districts elects one representative to the U.S. House in Washington, D.C. Washington’s population has grown since 2010, but not enough to add another congressional seat.
How does statewide redistricting affect the Yakima area?
Commissioners Brady Piñero Walkinshaw and April Sims, the Democratic appointees, recently released new legislative maps that change the shape of District 14 to create a Latino majority by voting age, which they say is required by law.
In the new maps, District 14 stretches horizontally across the south part of Yakima County and into Benton and Grant counties.
In Walkinshaw’s map, the 15th would cover parts of Yakima, Kittitas and Grant counties. The 13th would move to the west, to Pierce, King and Kittitas counties.
In Sims’ map, the 15th would include northern Yakima County and part of Kittitas County. The 13th would cover Yakima, Kittitas, Chelan and Grant counties.
The maps proposed by Republican Commissioners Paul Graves and Joseph Fain include minor changes to the legislative districts that encompass Yakima County.
In Graves’ map, Yakima and Klickitat counties would make up District 14. The eastern part of Yakima County would be in District 15 with Benton County. The 13th would stretch west into King County.
In Fain’s map, the 14th would cover Yakima, Kittitas and Skamania counties. The 15th would remain in eastern Yakima County. The 13th would take more of Yakima County, as well as most of Kittitas and Grant counties.
Each of the legislative maps unite the Yakima Reservation, a priority voiced in tribal consultations and public comment sessions.
Today, District 14 includes western Yakima County, while District 15 includes eastern Yakima County and District 13 includes Kittitas, Grant and Lincoln counties and a small part of Yakima County.
As for Congress, Yakima County is in the 4th Congressional District, represented by Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside.
Yakima County remains in the 4th District in each of the proposed maps. Three of those look similar to today’s map, where District 4 stretches from Okanogan County in the north to Klickitat and Benton counties in the south.
One map, produced by Walkinshaw, extends the 4th District east to also include Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.
What redistricting is happening at the county level?
Yakima County’s commissioner districts are changing as part of a voting rights settlement reached by the county and immigrant rights group OneAmerica.
A judge on Friday approved a new map that includes a district with a Latino majority by voting age. The judge called the map fair and equitable and said she hopes it will solve the minority dilution issues in the county. The new map also takes the latest Census into account.
The new districts go into effect in 2022, when all three county commission seats will be up for election.
The map is not yet publicly available.
Is there redistricting in the city of Yakima?
The Yakima City Council is expected to review a new district map in November. Each of the city’s seven districts elects one person to the City Council.
The map, produced by city staff, will reflect population changes in the 2020 Census. It will also need to comply with a 2014 voting rights judgement and the Voting Rights Act.
City Manager Bob Harrison said more details on city redistricting will be available later this week.