State lawmakers passed the Washington Voting Rights Act the week, meant to give underrepresented minority groups a larger voice in elections. And that could mean more district-based voting in the future. The act encourages local governments to use district-based elections, like city councils in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane do already. The state senate gave final approval of the act Monday, sending it to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature. Democratic state Representative Zack Hudgins was among the bill’s supporters. “The bill before us addresses the problems that we saw in Yakima, and that we’ve heard about in Pasco,” he said.
Yakima residents filed a federal lawsuit in 2012 saying the city’s at-large election system diluted the Latino vote. As a solution, Yakima switched to district-based voting and elected its first-ever Latino city council members the next year.
Under the measure, people could work with their government to adopt district-based voting, ranked-choice ballots or other tactics to give minorities a bigger voice.
Hudgins said it sets up a collaborative process for communities to “work it out before they end up in court.”