A bill drafted with Yakima’s council elections system in mind has returned for a third straight try at passing in the Legislature. The state Voting Rights Act, which would make it easier to force localities to switch to geographic district-based elections, was reintroduced Wednesday in the House and with a companion bill in the Senate. The bills are sponsored by Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace, and Sen. Cyrus Habib, D-Kirkland. The proposal would make it easier to challenge a local government’s elections format in court if evidence of racially polarized voting exists.
Supporters of the measure have previously stated that Yakima’s hybrid of district and at-large City Council elections would be more vulnerable to a legal challenge under such a law.
Yakima has already spent nearly $1 million in legal fees for a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington challenging its elections system. A federal judge ruled in August that the city’s system violates the federal Voting Rights Act, and has been mulling redistricting proposals since November without yet releasing a final decision.