Activists Push To Save Washington Voting 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.