OLYMPIA — Drawing new boundaries for Washington’s congressional and legislative districts isn’t an activity reserved for politicians alone. You can do it too. Recently, the Washington State Redistricting Commission posted tools on its website that will allow anyone with a computer to decide what the new districts should look like. Those who don’t have a computer can ask the commission to send them paper maps to do the job.
No matter how simple the tools, however, redistricting itself can’t be anything but a challenge. That’s due, in large part, to the criteria that must be followed to generate a map that stands up to the legal requirements for redistricting. The Washington State and U.S. Constitutions, as well as Washington state law set the rules that govern the shape and locations of new districts. Those planning to submit their own maps need to make sure their new lines comply with the law. The requirements are posted on the commission’s website, www.redistricting.wa.gov.
Called the "Do-It-Yourself Redistricting Kit," the maps, in either electronic or paper form, show the boundaries of current voting precincts and the number of people who live there. These two pieces of information are the building blocks for mapping district boundaries. To see the kit, go to www.redistricting.wa.gov and click on the button labeled "DIY maps" for instructions and tools. All submissions must be either postmarked or emailed to the commission no later than August 15, 2011. If you wish to participate via interactive webcast, go to the commission’s website at www.redistricting.wa.gov and click on the "Attend by webcast" link or the "Get Involved" tab.