Lawsuit: Redistricting commission violated open-meetings law

December 10, 2021 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A government transparency group has sued Washington’s redistricting commission, saying its final vote on the state’s new political maps violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act.

The Seattle Times reports the Washington Coalition for Open Government filed the lawsuit Thursday in Thurston County Superior Court, saying commissioners flouted the public meetings law by negotiating secretly for hours on Nov. 15 before taking a rushed pre-midnight vote on maps that were not publicly displayed or debated.

The lawsuit seeks to void the bipartisan commission’s final vote, impose a $500 fine for each of the commissioners and attorney’s fees. It does not take a position on the merits of the map agreed to belatedly by the commission.

“In the end, the commission failed to meet its deadline and to complete its work,” Mike Fancher, the nonprofit transparency group’s president, said in a statement.

Lisa McLean, the redistricting commission’s executive director, said in an email the commission “has received notice of the lawsuit and is consulting with counsel.”

The redistricting commissioners previously acknowledged they failed to meet the Nov. 15 deadline, taking some votes after midnight and scrambling to assemble final maps over the next several hours.

That put redistricting authority into the hands of the state Supreme Court, which last week declined to exercise that authority, ruling the commission had substantially completed its work by its deadline, and leaving in place the commission-drawn maps.