League of Women Voters holds Speak Up School on testifying for redistricting

A reminder to register for free workshops in March

CLARK COUNTY — The League of Women Voters of Clark County (LWV) is offering a free, two-session Speak Up School class to help prepare people who want to testify before the state Redistricting Commission. 

Washington’s 10 federal congressional districts are shown here on an interactive map accessible on the GovTrack website. Photo courtesy of GovTrack
Washington’s 10 federal congressional districts are shown here on an interactive map accessible on the GovTrack website. Photo courtesy of GovTrack

Registration can be done here, and the training will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 6 and 20 via Zoom. State officials will take testimony from the public about how individuals and organizations believe election district boundaries should be drawn to ensure fairness and equity in voting.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to learn to testify in public,” said league member Alan Unell, who is leading the Clark County preparation efforts. “The training will share tools to help participants find their own voice and build effective, personal testimony.”

Graphic courtesy of LWV
Graphic courtesy of LWV

Participants should plan on attending both sessions, Unell said. Different topics will be presented at each session and the second session will build upon the first. 

“I think we’re going to be seeing a three-minute limit, maybe two, depending on how many people sign up,” said Judy Zeider, the civics education chair with LWV. “So people are going to have to be very to the point and focused in their testimony.”

Alison McCaffree, who is organizing the League’s statewide effort, said the training is a “targeted strategy to improve the quality, content and diversity of input to our 2021 Washington State Redistricting Commission.” Participants will learn ways to build effective, personal testimony.

Speak Up School training is open to everyone, said Unell, who added that LWV is seeking to expand the diversity of people who testify. No previous experience is required. 

The goal is to host approximately a dozen schools and train more than 2,000 people to testify. The commission will travel the state in spring and fall 2021 to hear from residents and then tackle the task of redrawing district lines.

“In the case of the state legislative districts, 49 equally populated districts that don’t split up political boundaries, like counties and cities, that encourage electoral competition, that prevent undue favoritism, that ensure that districts are compact, contiguous and convenient,” Zeider said. “So you don’t have to drive to Yakima from Washougal or Camas to attend a town hall meeting for your legislator.”

Issues like gerrymandering, in which legislators create somewhat absurd district lines to better suit their political party or base, will also be explained so as to educate class-goers on how to recognize such districting. The workshops will make use of the readily available online mapping tool known as Dave’s Redistricting to visually explain the process as well.

The redrawing of election district boundaries occurs every 10 years after the completion of the U.S. Census. If you have questions about Speak Up School, you can contact lwvccspeakupschool@gmail.com.    

The League of Women Voters of Clark County is a nonpartisan, grassroots civic organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. 

Membership in the League is open to all. With 100 years of experience, the League is one of America’s oldest and most trusted civic nonprofit organizations.

Information provided by the League of Women Voters of Clark County