The proposed Washington Voting Rights Act is about true representation in local elections. Lawmakers should pass House Bill 1413and send it to the governor’s desk. Washington is known for progressive ideas, but it also faces another stark reality: Minorities in some parts of the state have little influence on important decisions that affect their schools, public safety, water use and land resources. HB 1413 would allow individuals and groups to seek redress by challenging communities to switch to district-based elections. This is how congressional races are run. Why not municipal elections?
Washington’s voting history shows a pattern of lopsided outcomes because the vast majority of local elections are for at-large positions — meaning citizens vote citywide instead of for their specific neighborhood or section.
As a result, minority candidates often have a hard time getting elected.
Though Latinos make up more than 33 percent of the population in 10 counties across Central Washington, they hold less than 4 percent of local elected offices in those areas.