The United States Senate may be wracked by dysfunction and disagreement — especially this week — but here in Washington, our State Senate is on a roll, working diligently to advance the good of all the people under its new Democratic majority. After having passed the DISCLOSE Act, same-day voter registration, and the capital budget earlier this week, our Senate today voted for the first time to adopt the Washington Voting Rights Act (ESSB 6002), liberating a bill that had been stuck in the Senate Republicans’ graveyard of progress for years.
“This bill is a significant step forward in our ongoing effort to expand access to democracy in Washingtonian, and establish a truly representative government,” said Senator Rebecca Saldaña (D‑37th District: Seattle).
“We saw a dramatic change in representation in cities like Yakima and Pasco after they implemented district-based elections. Washington needs a voting rights act so that every local jurisdiction has the opportunity to do this, and so that impacted communities can truly have a voice that counts.”
“Voting is a right, not a privilege,” agreed Senator Sam Hunt (D‑22nd District).
“We don’t need barriers to voting, we need pathways. It is our most basic duty to make our democracy accessible to every single eligible voter. We won’t succeed by just by increasing opportunities for voting. We must also increase transparency in our elections by shining a light on hidden money. This package accomplishes those goals. Access to democracy is essential in having a strong government.”
“After years of hard work by committed community leaders and legislators, today the Washington Senate passed the Voting Rights Act,” said Rich Stolz, Chief Executive Officer of OneAmerica Votes. “This is a tremendous victory for communities of color striving for greater representation across our state, made possible by community members who campaigned to elect Senator Manka Dhingra in the 45th Legislative District. Today, Dinghra is one of two women of color in the State Senate. The other, Senator Rebecca Saldana (LD37), sponsored this legislation.”
“The Senate’s action today stands in stark contrast to the theatrics and threatening rhetoric emanating from the White House. Washington State is setting its own path toward greater equity, representation and a stronger democracy.”
The roll call was as follows:
Voting rights act
3rd Reading & Final Passage
Yeas: 29; Nays: 19; Excused: 1
Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Dhingra, Fain, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Sheldon, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman
Voting Nay: Senators Angel, Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Honeyford, King, O‘Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson, Zeiger
Excused: Senator Baumgartner
Four Republicans crossed over to support the Voting Rights Act: Joe Fain, Brad Hawkins, Mark Miloscia, and Tim Sheldon. Senator Baumgartner did not vote on final passage. The remaining eighteen Republicans voted nay, while the entire Democratic caucus was unified in support of the legislation.
Passage of the Voting Rights Act is one of NPI’s legislative priorities for 2018. We’re thrilled to see today’s action on the floor of the Senate. The approval of the WVRA is fantastic news for the people of the State of Washington.
ESSB 6002 now goes to the House, which has previously voted several times to pass previous versions of the Washington Voting Rights Act.