Washington Voting Rights Act
Washington Voting Rights Act

A revised ver­sion of the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Rights Act, cham­pi­oned by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Luis Moscoso (D‑1st Dis­trict: Both­ell, Kirk­land, Mill Creek), today passed out of the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives with­out a sin­gle vote to spare, thanks to Repub­li­cans’ refusal to pro­vide a sin­gle vote in sup­port. (Democ­rats cur­rent­ly have a bare major­i­ty of fifty votes in the House.)

The roll call on ESHB 1745 was as follows:

Vot­ing Yea: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Apple­ton, Bergquist, Blake, Clib­born, Cody, Dun­shee, Far­rell, Fey, Fitzgib­bon, Frame, Good­man, Gregerson, Hansen, Hud­gins, Hunt, Hurst, Jink­ins, Kagi, Kil­duff, Kir­by, Kud­er­er, Lyt­ton, McBride, Moeller, Mor­ris, Moscoso, Orms­by, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Peter­son, Pet­ti­grew, Pol­let, Reyk­dal, Ric­cel­li, Robin­son, Ros­set­ti, Ryu, San­tos, Sawyer, Sells, Senn, Springer, Stan­ford, Sul­li­van, Tar­leton, Tharinger, Van De Wege, Walkin­shaw, Wylie, Speak­er Chopp

Vot­ing Nay: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Buys, Caldier, Chan­dler, Con­dot­ta, DeBolt, Dent, Dye, Grif­fey, Haler, Har­grove, Harmsworth, Har­ris, Hawkins, Hayes, Hick­el, Holy, John­son, Klip­pert, Kochmar, Kretz, Kris­tiansen, MacEwen, Magen­danz, Man­weller, McCabe, McCaslin, Muri, Nealey, Orcutt, Park­er, Pike, Rodne, Schmick, Scott, Shea, Short, Smith, Stam­baugh, Stokes­bary, Tay­lor, Van Wer­ven, Vick, Walsh, Wilcox, Wil­son, Young, Zeiger

The Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Rights Act is intend­ed to improve gov­ern­ment at the local lev­el by mak­ing elect­ed bod­ies more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­mu­ni­ties they serve. To accom­plish this, the Act would do the fol­low­ing:

  • Cre­ates a state vot­ing rights act that pro­tects the equal oppor­tu­ni­ty for minor­i­ty groups to par­tic­i­pate in local elections.
  • Cre­ates a cause of action and autho­rizes courts to order appro­pri­ate reme­dies for a vio­la­tion of the act, includ­ing redis­trict­ing with­in a polit­i­cal subdivision.
  • Autho­rizes local gov­ern­ments to change their elec­tion sys­tem to rem­e­dy vio­la­tions of the act.

“We applaud the State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for pass­ing the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Rights Act and mak­ing a clear state­ment that all com­mu­ni­ties have a right to fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” said Rich Stolz, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of OneAmerica.

“This is about mak­ing our democ­ra­cy stronger. Wash­ing­ton State’s huge rep­re­sen­ta­tion gap across local gov­ern­ments results in neigh­bor­hoods being denied ade­quate atten­tion and resources, stu­dents being denied and edu­ca­tion sys­tem that meets their needs, and vot­ers being dis­af­fect­ed and unengaged.”

“The his­toric elec­tions in Yaki­ma last fall show what can be pos­si­ble when a dis­crim­i­na­to­ry elec­tion sys­tem is removed,” he concluded.

“The Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Rights Act empow­ers local gov­ern­ments and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to col­lab­o­rate in solv­ing prob­lems of elec­toral unfair­ness, agreed Shankar Narayan, Leg­isla­tive Direc­tor for the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union of Wash­ing­ton. “It pro­vides for data and analy­sis of such prob­lems, as well as a roadmap to get to a solu­tion and help juris­dic­tions avoid litigation.

“The sig­nif­i­cant change that has come to Yaki­ma should­n’t require a fed­er­al law­suit and mil­lions of dol­lars. The WVRA makes need­ed elec­toral change much more pos­si­ble and like­ly across the state.”

NPI con­grat­u­lates House Democ­rats on the pas­sage of the 2016 Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Rights Act, and thanks NPI Advi­so­ry Coun­cil Mem­ber Luis Moscoso for shep­herd­ing this leg­is­la­tion through the Leg­is­la­ture. Sad­ly, Sen­ate Repub­li­cans will prob­a­bly kill it off, but it’s a wor­thy idea, and hope­ful­ly one that can become law in 2017.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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