SEATTLE – We may know by Christmas whether Washington state will officially get a new Congressional seat as expected.
Census data collected every ten years is used to determine how many of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives each state gets. Washington currently has nine.
The official deadline for the House clerk to reveal the results is Jan. 25, but a member of the Washington state Redistricting Commission says word usually leaks out a month before that.
With the addition of a 10th District, at least one, and perhaps more, of the current districts would have to shrink. The website Crosscut speculates the 10th District would center on Olympia.
That could bring significant change to at least three districts. Crosscut predicts the 3rd would lose Lewis, Pacific, Wahkiakum and Thurston counties, and maybe even part of Cowlitz County. The 3rd would likely become more of an east-west district along the Columbia River. The 5th District may lose Okanogan and Adams counties to the 4th District, which could lose Klickitat County and part of Yakima County to the 3rd.
Who decides all this? A commission consisting of two Democrats and two Republicans in the state Legislature. They'll hold public hearings to get the input of residents and come up with tentative maps. A final plan is presented to the full Legislature by Dec. 31, 2011. The Legislature must sign off on it within 30 days.
Gov. Chris Gregoire will have no say in the redistricting.
Residents of the 10th District will get their first chance to vote for their representative in the Nov. 2012 general election.