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The 1950s: 1958

A Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Voters were given another opportunity to determine the fate of redistricting when legislators placed a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 1958 ballot. The amendment was part of Senate Joint Resolution 12, which passed during the last week of the 1957 session. The measure established a commission that would automatically take over redistricting if the Legislature failed to reapportion during the session immediately following the federal government’s release of a new decennial census. The seven-member commission would include the secretary of state, three gubernatorial appointees, a representative of the Washington State Supreme Court, and two legislators.

The League of Women Voters, among other groups, backed the amendment, but critics feared that some of its provisions might prevent citizens from filing reapportionment initiatives in the future. The measure went down to defeat at the polls.

Throughout the 1950s, both the Legislature and the League believed they had the best interests of the state at heart; both sides believed they had the best answer to the problem of redistricting. The struggle posed the essential question of redistricting: who is best qualified to oversee the process? Debate over the answer would continue for the next four decades.


Oral History
1957 1960s