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caption: In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, the Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
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In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, the Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

New voting maps to be drawn by state Supreme Court, after historic fail by commission

Washington was supposed to know by Tuesday, Nov. 16 what the state’s new political maps would look like. But the state's bipartisan redistricting commission has missed its deadline.

The task now goes to the Washington State Supreme Court.

The Washington State Redistricting Commission was supposed to develop and vote on new congressional and legislative maps by the end of Monday night. But despite "mutual respect and dedication" its members "were unable to adopt a districting plan," the commission said in a statement.

The state's voting districts are redrawn every 10 years, after the census which tracks changes in regional populations. The aim it to keep voting blocks as even as possible. This determines which elected officials you will vote for.

Before 1983, the state Legislature drew the maps. Then voters approved a constitutional amendment to put the job into the hands of an independent redistricting commission with four voting members. Two are appointed by Democrats, and two by Republicans.

For the first time since it began redistricting duties in 1991, the bipartisan commission failed to agree on the new maps.

In a statement released on Twitter late Tuesday morning, the commission blames "the late released of 2020 census data combined with technical challenges" for their failure to meet the midnight deadline. The commission adjourned with little public discussion and without making clear whether a vote had been taken.

The job will now fall to the Washington State Supreme Court, which will have until April 30 to submit maps.