Population changes in the 2020 census mean Okanogan County’s three commissioners’ districts will have different boundaries.
After reviewing census data and maps prepared by the county’s GIS staff, on Monday (Dec. 20) the Okanogan County commissioners created a new draft map that shifts precincts so that each district has as close to equal population as practical, Okanogan County Auditor Cari Hall said.
The county’s population is now 42,104, meaning that each commissioner’s district should contain about 14,035 people. The districts are based on total population, not registered voters, Hall said.
To arrive at the new boundaries, the commissioners used a color-coded map that showed individual precincts. To avoid a situation that could appear to target certain areas or populations, the precincts weren’t identified or named, Hall said.
To equalize the districts, the commissioners shifted about 16 people from District 3 (represented by Commissioner Jim DeTro) to District 2 (represented by Commissioner Andy Hover). The commissioners then moved about 200 people from District 2 to District 1 (represented by Commissioner Chris Branch). District 2 needed more than 200 people to equalize the population, Hall said.
The commissioners try to keep existing precinct boundaries intact, but they can be adjust them if necessary, she said.
By state law, each district is supposed to be as compact as possible, and to consist of a geographically contiguous area. Population data may not be used for purposes of favoring or disfavoring any racial group or political party.
To the extent feasible, district boundaries should coincide with recognized natural boundaries and preserve existing communities of related and mutual interest.
The new district lines must be approved and submitted to the county auditor by Dec. 31, complete with a legal description of all boundaries and any changes.
Comment on new districts
Okanogan County’s draft district plan and map will be available for public review on Wednesday (Dec. 22) on the commissioners’ website at https://okanogancounty.org/government/commissioners/index, or by calling (509) 422-7100.
People can comment on the plan through 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 29 to email@example.com.
The commissioners will hold a public meeting to consider comments on the plan on Wednesday, Dec. 29, at 2:30 p.m. Information about attending remotely will be on the commissioners’ website.