For State Legislative District 1 Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace, Monday’s House vote to pass and send the Washington Voting Rights Act of 2013 to the Senate for their consideration is a step in the right direction for minorities in the state.
“The Washington Voting Rights Act is fair and reasonable,” Moscoso said in a statement to the press. “I truly hope this time around the Senate chooses to move us closer to delivering on the promise of democracy that our state constitution makes to all the citizens of Washington.”
By a vote of 53-43, the House passed the bill that would allow individuals or groups to bring legal action against a city, school district, fire protection district or any other government jurisdiction where they felt an election didn’t truly represent the preference of a minority group.
Moscoso is one of 29 House Democrats that originally sponsored the legislation in 2013, including District 32 House Representatives Cindy Ryu and Ruth Kagi (portions of Mountlake Terrace west of I-5 are in District 32). The bill passed the House last year by a similar vote, but never made it to the floor of the Senate for consideration.
Moscoso called the legislation “crucial” to ensure minority groups are given a voice in local elections.
“In Adams County, for example, 60 out of 100 residents are Latino, but among the city council and school board members, only 3 out of 100 are Latino,” Moscoso claimed. “And this is not unique, other counties in our state reflect the same issue.”
“It’s possible the voters in those counties, Latino and otherwise, genuinely prefer those candidates. But maybe they don’t,” he said.
The legislation, aimed at cities, towns and other jurisdictions with populations of 1000 or more, would allow courts to impose district-based elections where it has determined that minority groups were denied their preference in an at-large or jurisdiction-wide election outcome. It also gives jurisdictions the ability to establish voting districts within their borders as a way to address the concerns of minority groups that feel their votes are being diluted in an at-large voting system.
The Association of Washington Cities (AWC), an advocacy group for member cities, has expressed concerned over the legislation. “The proposal imposes ongoing liability and costs for cities with no guarantee that it would address the issues raised by proponents,” the group stated.