Vancouver activist files challenge to state redistricting plans
February 8, 2012 · 1:30 PM
John Milem, a Vancouver activist who has followed the redistricting process for decades, has asked the state Supreme Court to throw out the newly adopted legislative and congressional redistricting plan.
He asks the court to re-do the redrawing of state political boundaries.
The new maps, which are required by state and federal constitutions after every decennial census, were adopted by the four voting members of the citizen Redistricting Commission on Jan. 1, and the Legislature made minor tweaks and the law went into effect without further action by the governor.
The panel was composed of four voting members, two Republicans and two Democrats, appointed by leaders of the four legislative caucuses in Olympia. A fifth, non-voting, member served as chairwoman.
Over the course of the year, the panel redrew the state's 49 legislative districts and carved the state into 10 congressional districts, including a new 10th district awarded the state after the 2010 census. By law, the Legislature had little direct role in the process, and could make only minor modifications, involving 2 percent or less population shift per district. The process was created by the Legislature and the voters in 1983 as a constitutional amendment.
On Wednesday, Milem filed a petition with the high court asking that the commission's work be overturned. He said the panel failed to comply with requirements to minimize division of counties and cities, to make districts of equal population, and to encourage electoral competition.
Milem told the court: "The commission has reduced competition rather than encouraged it," as in making the 8th and 9th Congressional districts less competitive.
He asked the court to re-do fresh redistricting. The constitutional says that if the commission fails in its task, the court has until March 1 to do the task.