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.
A proposal to allow Washington cities to rearrange voting districts so minorities could have a greater voice in elections was praised Thursday as a way to avoid costly federal lawsuits and denounced as a Trojan horse for more litigation. The proposed state Voting Rights Act, which passed the House on a partisan vote during the regular session but stalled in the Senate despite bipartisan support, got an airing in a joint Senate committee work session. It’s unlikely to be revived for the special session, which is concentrating on budgets, but that didn’t keep tempers from occasionally flaring as legal experts disagreed on its effectiveness.