Democratic State Rep. Luis Moscoso has introduced a new version of the Washington Voting Rights Act.
Moscoso introduced the bill Thursday, Jan. 28. It is scheduled for a hearing Thursday, Feb. 5, before the House committee on state government.
It would empower local governments to tailor solutions to systemic electoral issues, which, he said, ensure fairness in local elections and a voice for all communities.
It is aimed at helping minority groups have their voices heard. It allows people who are part of one of those groups to sue to create a change in the way they are represented in a city, town, county, school district, public utility district, fire district or special-purpose district.
“The most fundamental principle of American democracy is that elections should be free, fair and accessible to all,” Moscoso said Thursday. “Regardless of whether individual candidates win or lose, we must ensure that every community in our state has an opportunity to have their voices heard in the electoral process. The Washington Voting Rights Act is a fair and reasonable solution.”
Moscoso said that the new bill builds on the proposal’s passage in the House and bipartisan passage out of the Senate Government Operations Committee last year and again has bipartisan support. He added that the bill is modeled after a successful California Voting Rights Act, which, he said, has worked to improve the fairness of local governments, mostly through jurisdictions voluntarily changing their electoral systems.
A state senator from Kirkland has introduced a companion bill.
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.
The senate sponsor, Democrat Cyrus Habib, said, “There’s no silver bullet to ensure that everyone can be heard in our democracy, but if there are systemic issues preventing entire communities from being heard in our elections, that’s something we need to remedy.”
Habib added that the legislation could help the state avoid expensive federal litigation.
Evan Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.