The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
In Our View: Rep. Moscoso's HB 1413


Yes on Voting Rights Act

Voting rights are elemental, the centerpiece of a vital democracy. The question resonated decades ago, when Northwest families cheered the Tacoma Giants and watched Ed Sullivan on a Magnavox. Members of Washington's U.S. Congressional delegation, weighing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, got slammed with calls demanding they preserve restrictions zeroing out African-American voters. Opponents were wrong then, just as opponents of the Washington Voting Rights Act are wrong today.
This year the Washington Legislature has a chance to bend towards justice and pass HB 1413, the Washington Voting Rights Act of 2013. The bill's prime sponsor and champion is Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace.
The impetus is straightforward: Washington's political class doesn't mirror the state's evolving demographics.
HB 1413 will allow classes of voters to challenge at-large voting if, combined with a pattern of racial polarization, there is evidence that minority populations are elbowed out. If the evidence is compelling, then a more-representative district-based system is established. It's bracingly fair. And democratic.
"Our country has a long and honorable history in making sure everyone has a voice in making our democracy work. To that end, over the past 200 years we have amended our Constitution with four voting rights amendments -- from women's suffrage, to eliminating voting poll taxes, to passing the federal Voting Rights Act," Moscoso said. "In Washington state we must ensure that all voices are heard in local elections. That everyone has a fair chance to be represented by candidates of their choice."
The problem is systemic, and at-large voting often marginalizes minority voters. It's easier to reduce the problem to its bones, that minorities, especially Latinos in Eastern Washington, don't have a political voice because of an antiquated voting system that magnifies the white and non-white divide.
In 10 counties in Eastern Washington, the problem is the lack of single-member districts -- a paltry one percent. As a result, Latino voters are lumped into at-large districts with a majority population that often votes (just like Latinos) along ethnic or racial lines. From local school boards, to city councils, to county commissions, Latino candidates are shoved to the curb.
Snohomish County voters may tut-tut Washingtonians east of the Cascades, but we also have issues regarding equal representation. Snohomish County has an Asian population of nearly 12 percent, although only 1.4 percent of local elected officials are Asian. African-Americans, at 3.7 percent of the county population, hold one-half of one percent of local-elected positions.
We can do better. Passing the Washington Voting Rights Act is a critical step forward.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

Herald Editorial Board

Peter Jackson, Opinion Editor: pjackson@heraldnet.com (@PeterJHerald)

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet Classifieds

HeraldNet highlights

Tulips in bloom
Tulips in bloom: Photo gallery: A rainbow of color in Skagit County
He was a devoted family man
He was a devoted family man: Stephen Neal was working in a home when the mudslide hit
'Blood moon'
'Blood moon': Lunar eclipse delights, at least where skies are clear
No longer alone
No longer alone: Lynnwood couple, 96 and 85, say it's never too late to wed