Voting Rights Act

Washington lawmakers today renewed a push to reform local elections and ensure minorities are represented.

The Washington Voting Rights Act is a state version of the federal law. It would allow minority groups to challenge their representation in city, country and school district elections.

The bill stalled in both the state House and Senate after opposition from lawmakers who worry the law would lead to expensive lawsuits.

Critics still say the bill would cost the state millions in legal fees.

liz west / Flickr

 

A federal judge ruled against the City of Yakima in a voting rights challenge Tuesday, setting the stage for a new era in Central Washington politics. The ruling calls for an overhaul of Yakima’s City Council elections to better represent the will of Latino voters.

Judge Thomas Rice’s order followed his ruling last August that Yakima’s at-large City Council races suffocated the Latino vote. The city’s Latino population is over 40 percent and growing, yet no Latino has ever been elected to City Council.

US Census Bureau

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show the Northwest has fewer people who speak a foreign language at home than the country as a whole. But the highest concentrations of foreign speaking households in the region are not where you might expect.

Round Two For Washington Voting Rights Act

Jan 15, 2013

Do people vote based on race? That’s a question the Washington Legislature will likely tackle this session. Supporters of a state Voting Rights Act plan to push the measure again this year.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Nearly nine out of 10 city councils across the Northwest have no Latino members. That estimate comes from a database we assembled of Hispanic officeholders in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. One of the cities with no Latino representations is located in one of the most heavily Hispanic parts of our region. We’re talking about the city of Yakima. The ACLU is suing over the issue. Correspondent Austin Jenkins has our latest story on why the region's largest minority group has so little clout in the political arena.