Historical Timeline

Pre-1950s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | Post-2000

1889

The state Constitution requires that the Legislature redistrict based on "the number of inhabitants" after each U.S. Census.


1889

The original Legislature consists of 70 representatives and 35 senators. More are added in 1890 and 1901 to keep up with the state's population growth.


1931

Citizens complain that representation is badly apportioned and debate using an initiative to redraw district boundaries.
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1954

The League of Women Voters proposes its own redistricting initiative—Initiative 199— after legislators battle along party lines to redraw voting boundaries.


1956

Initiative 199 passes, linking redistricting to population trends in the state. But in the next session, the Legislature amends the resulting redistricting plan significantly.


1958

The League of Women Voters proposes an amendment to the state Constitution that would establish a commission to take over redistricting if the Legislature failed to quickly adopt a redistricting plan. Voters reject the amendment.
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1960s

The League of Women Voters proposes another initiative to improve redistricting. The federal court gets involved after finding that the districts drawn in 1957 were discriminatory. The Legislature takes three years to pass compromise legislation that satisfies federal justices.
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1970s

The U.S. District Court finds that the 1965 redistricting legislation is unconstitutional. The state is restricted from holding further elections under the existing law. The court gives the state until February 25, 1972, to create a fair redistricting plan. The Legislature fails to meet the deadline, and the court draws the redistricting plan for the state.
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1980s

In 1982, growing weary of the constant battles, the Legislature proposes a bill to create an independent, bipartisan redistricting committee to begin work in 1991. But facing another court imposed 90-day mandate, it appoints a temporary five-commissioner panel, which successfully meets the 1983 redistricting deadline.


1983

Voters approve a ballot measure to amend the state Constitution and institute the commission. Washington becomes the third state in the U.S. to redistrict by commission.
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1991

The first Redistricting Commission meets and successfully creates a redistricting plan by the constitutional deadline.
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2001

The second Redistricting Commission generates a redistricting plan by the constitutional deadline.


2011

The third Redistricting Commission convenes.
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