Redistricting maps may influence voting power of Yakima county’s minority populations

House Democratic Caucus Appointee April Sims' proposed Congressional District map of Yakima County

SEATTLE, Wash. — A coalition representing Washington’s communities of color fear that redistricting maps proposed by some state appointees will limit the voting rights and representation of Yakima County’s Latinx population.

According to Redistricting Justice of Washington, the Washington State Redistricting Commission’s four leaders each redrew the 14th and 15th legislative districts of Yakima County.

Each of these new boundary proposals would keep the Yakama Reservation unified in one district—A response to stark criticism from Native American leaders and advocates. Current district lines split the Reservation between the 14th and 15th legislative districts, which dilutes the voting power of the Yakama Nation’s population.

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The four commissioners also took differing approaches in drawing lines that influence Yakima’s Latinx community. While Democratic commissioners each drew a district with a majority of eligible Latino voters, Republican commissioners drew districts favoring a majority of white voters.

David Morales, a Yakima attorney and community advocate, hopes that the final redistricting plans take communities of color into account when solidifying political boundaries.

“The Latino community in Yakima will get a district that performs one way or another,” Morales said. “However, rather than submitting this plan for future lawsuits, it would be beneficial to everyone and save a lot of time and money if the ultimate plan adhered to both the Washington Voting Rights Act and the Federal Voting Rights Act.”

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Representatives of Redistricting Justice of Washington believe that the Republican map proposals will be deemed illegal under the Washington Voting Rights Act, which requires a majority-minority eligible voter district for diverse communities like Yakima County.

Final map proposals from the Washington State Redistricting Commission will be released on November 15, but now is the time for concerned community members to make their voices heard.

You can make a comment on the maps by clicking here. There will also be public outreach meetings for state legislative districts on October 5. That will be followed by outreach meetings for congressional districts on October 9. To view the maps, click here.


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