Redistricting Could Place Griffin Area Among a Different Group of Voters

“The U.S. Constitution requires that all states evaluate electoral district boundaries every ten years following the U.S. Census. In 1983, Washington voters established the Washington State Redistricting Commission to ensure district boundaries are redrawn through a fair and bipartisan process. The Redistricting Commission includes two Democrats and two Republicans as voting members and a non-voting, nonpartisan chair.

The commissioners’ draft redistricting proposals are now posted online. Also online are links you may use to comment on these proposals. Public input to the drafts will wrap up with a meeting in Olympia on October 11. The meeting will be webcast on TVW and broadcast on TV. Public comments will be taken during the meeting by phoning in or joining the interactive webcast.

After the meeting on October 11, the Redistricting Commissioners will meet as often as needed to hammer out a final plan for congressional and legislative districts. Their meetings will be open to the public and announced at least 24 hours in advance. The Commissioners have set a goal of November 1st to agree on a final plan, providing time to correct minor errors before the Constitutional deadline for submitting the plans to the Legislature on January 1, 2012.

Presently, Griffin area voters find themselves not quite in Thurston County, as ours is the small sliver of this county within the 35th Legislative District, and not in Olympia. At least, that is, when it comes to voting. The 35th LD encompasses all of Mason County and portions of Grays Harbor and Kitsap counties. As part of the 3rd Congressional District, we vote with a largely rural region south to Vancouver and west to the Pacific Ocean, at Long Beach. While many of us work in Olympia and travel frequently to Olympia to shop and to visit with friends, we are not in the same Legislative or Congressional district as Olympia.

Four redistricting plans are now subject to public review and comment. Where does the Griffin area fall, in each of these?

Click here to view each of the four redistricting plans. Click here to install Google Earth on your PC or Mac, to take advantage of the links to Google Earth layers.

Legislative District Proposals Split Down the Middle

Proposals from Slade Gorton and Tom Huff would move the Steamboat Island peninsula into the same Legislative district (District 22) in which Olympia and portions of north Thurston County are located.

However, Slade Gorton’s proposal would put the portion of the Griffin area north of US 101 in Olympia’s legislative district, but parcels to the south of US 101 in Mason County’s legislative district (District 35). Huff’s proposal, too, would put Summit Lake in one LD and the rest of the Griffin area in another LD.

The proposals of Tim Ceis and Dean Foster would keep the Griffin area in the same legislative district as Mason County (District 35).

Congressional District Proposals Vary Widely as to Boundaries

All four proposals would place the Griffin area in the same congressional district as the city of Olympia. However, the proposals vary widely as to the boundaries and size of that district.

Gorton’s proposal is for a modestly-sized congressional district (District 9) covering all of Thurston County and then extending north into Pierce County, just east of Tacoma and west of Puyallup.

Ceis would create a congressional district (District 10) extending from Shelton across north Thurston County and then into Pierce County, but extending not as far north into Pierce County as Gorton’s proposal.

Foster’s proposal would create a single vast congressional district (District 10) covering the entire Olympic Peninsula and south to the Oregon border, including Pacific County (but not Wahkiakum). This district would extend across north Thurston County and to a point north of South Hill. It is notable, whowever, that Foster’s proposal places Shelton – actually, the eastern half of Mason County – in a different district than District 10.

Huff’s proposal is for a large congressional district (District 6) that covers the entire Olympic Peninsula, to the southern boundary of Grays Harbor County. Then east to Interstate 5, including Olympia but ending at the Nisqually River. This district would include Bainbridge Island.

Miles to Go Before Completion

Although the public comment period ends soon – October 11 – there is much work left to complete redistricting. A decade ago, there were big differences between the districts proposed and those which were eventually set.

On October 20, Thurston County will host a public meeting on the redistricting proposals. Click here for information about that event, which takes place in the Tenino High School.

Click here to review the proposals and to make comments to each of the four voting members on the Redistricting Commission.

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