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Redistricting challenged in state Supreme Court

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm | No Comments »
February 8, 2012 12:00 pm

The Redistricting Commission honored John Milem for his volunteer work helping redraw the state’s political lines, but while Milem had influence on the details, he wasn’t satisfied the plan was fair in the big picture.

Today the Vancouver man filed a legal challenge in the state Supreme Court saying the plan violates the 1983 law creating the bipartisan redistricting process.

The Legislature gave final approval to the new Congressional and legislative lines last week. But Milem said they help incumbents at the expense of the people they represent — especially the voters outside Puget Sound.

Milem said King, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties have too much influence in the new Congressional districts. While they account for less than 60 percent of the state’s population, they dominate seven of the 10 districts, he said.

It’s worth noting that Puget Sound dominates most of the districts today and voters have at times been willing to elect residents of more rural areas. Rep. Norm Dicks lives in Mason County while Kitsap and Pierce voters make up the vast majority of his district.

Milem says he has other legal arguments, too. He said the new lines split counties and cities unnecessarily.

Commissioners actually reduced the number of splits, but Milem said they didn’t go far enough to reverse the unfair grouping of voters created early on in the new redistricting process.

“This lawsuit’s 20 years late,” he said.

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