SEATTLE (AP) – In another move to differentiate themselves from the Republican-controlled Senate, House Democrats are pushing forward a measure that aims to enhance minority voting rights.
The House is expected to vote next week on the measure called the Washington Voting Rights Act, which opens the possibility of court challenges to cities, counties and school districts to push them to switch from at-large to district elections in areas where large minority groups are present.
The measure, like others in this short session, is expected to die in the Senate, a chamber controlled by a Republican-dominated coalition. This short legislative session is shaping into a bipartisan stall, where measures from opposite chambers aren’t going anywhere.
At the heart of the measure is the history of elections in Central and Eastern Washington – specifically Yakima County, where the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last year against the city of Yakima. Forty-one percent of Yakima’s 91,000 residents are Latino, but the city has never elected a Latino member to its at-large city council.