By Evan Smith
Democratic State Rep. Luis Moscoso last week praised his fellow members of the House of Representatives for passing the Washington Voting Rights Act and urged the Senate to follow. Moscoso sponsored the bill, which passed the House last year (53-44) but never came up in the Senate.
House Bill 1413, which the House last week passed (53-43) would prohibit the drawing of election districts in a manner that prevents members of a race, color, or language-group from electing candidates of their choice or exercising influence in an election.
Moscoso had this to say on Jan. 27: “Some people say our elections system isn’t broken: After all, we don’t have a poll tax, ballots are secret and vote-counting is open and accurate.
“But when we look closely at the results, we have to wonder if something is broken. I’m not talking about which individual candidates win or lose, or whether they are Republicans or Democrats, but whether whole groups of people, whole communities in our state, are left without a voice in our democracy.
“In Adams County, for example, 60 out of 100 residents are Latino, but among the city council and school board members, only 3 out of 100 are Latino. And this is not unique; other counties in our state reflect the same issue.
“It’s possible the voters in those counties – Latino and otherwise – genuinely prefer those candidates. But maybe they don’t. And that’s why today’s passage of the Voting Rights Act in the House of Representatives is so crucial.
“The bill we just sent to the Senate does not require anybody to do anything. It simply allows local governments to get rid of their at-large voting systems — if they find that those systems are silencing the voices of many of their citizens – and to replace them with district voting.
“The Washington Voting Rights Act is fair and reasonable. I truly hope this time around the Senate chooses to move us closer to delivering on the promise of democracy that our state constitution makes to all the citizens of Washington.”
Moscoso represents the 1st Legislative District, including most of Mountlake Terrace, all of Brier and Bothell, unincorporated areas of Snohomish County north and east of Bothell, part of Kirkland, and unincorporated areas of King County between Bothell and Kirkland.