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Activists Push To Save Washington Voting Rights Act

Pavan Vangipuram
One America
Immigrant Rights groups held a press conference to push for passage of Washington Voters Rights Act

A bill to aimed at protecting voting rights in Washington isn’t dead but it’s barely breathing. And immigrant and civil rights organizations are scrambling to keep it alive.

The push to save HB1745,  also known as the Voting Rights Act of Washington, comes in the wake of a 2014 federal court case involving Yakima elections. A federal judge determined that Latinos in the eastern Washington city have been denied representation because city council members are elected citywide rather than by district.

Felipe Rodriguez-Flores, with Progreso, says that lack of representation has meant that some areas of the city, where council members tend to live,  have lots of services.

“And then there’s other parts of the city that don’t have street lights or sidewalks,” he said.

The judge found Yakima in violation of the federal voting rights act and ordered a change in how council members are elected. The case stretched over three years and cost the city millions.

The immigrant rights group One America, the American Civil Liberties Union and others say under the proposed state voting rights act lawsuits could be avoided because there are provisions for mediation, rather than legal action, to ensure the voting rights of minorities are protected.

The bill has bipartisan support, but is being held up by leaders in the state senate.

Activists have rallied their troops to pressure those leaders to pass the bill out onto the floor by the Wednesday 5 p.m.deadline.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.