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.