Yakima will file a legal brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a case that could upend the city’s new elections system, but it narrowly voted against asking for a partial stay in the upcoming elections. The City Council on Wednesday unanimously asked its attorneys to submit a friend-of-the-court brief in Evenwel v. Abbott, a Texas case that seeks to define the “one person, one vote” principle. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case sometime in the next year.
The case raises the question of whether the federal government should require state and local governments to draw election districts based on eligible voters or total population. Virtually all governments use total population to set districts, but the plaintiffs say that method creates an imbalance that dilutes the power of the vote in districts that happen to have greater voting-age populations.
The case is relevant to Yakima because in February, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the city to adopt a seven-district elections system that includes two Latino-majority districts. The seven districts are relatively equal in population, but have wide gaps in terms of residents who are likely eligible to vote. Under the judge’s order, all seven positions will be on the ballot this year.