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Challenges Remain for WA’s New Voting Maps [AUDIO]

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Concerns are lingering over the final voting maps approved in Washington state.

While the districts are set for the 2022 election, legislative redistricting in south-central Washington is being challenged under the federal Voting Rights Act

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The lawsuit alleges the map creates the facade of a district containing a majority of people of Latin heritage.

Andrew Hong, statewide coordinator of Redistricting Justice for Washington, a group representing a coalition of communities of color, said the line between Districts 14 and 15 splits the Yakama Reservation from the largest Latino community in Washington.

“This is a community that is working class, that has been historically marginalized and disenfranchised,” Hong asserted. “The Voting Rights Act protects the voting rights of these communities to have a district where they can elect candidates that represent them and the state redistricting commission denied them.”

Democratic members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission have voted against defending the new maps. The commission’s nonpartisan chair resigned this week, saying the members had undermined the redistricting process with their vote not to defend them. Joe Fain, a Republican commissioner, has said the refusal to defend the maps tarnished the bipartisan process.

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Hong’s organization was more pleased with the congressional map, which largely kept majority communities-of-color districts intact in the Seattle area. But back on the state level, the group also has concerns about districts in Snohomish and Pierce counties. He pointed out the most recent round of redistricting has highlighted the need for change in how the process is done, as well as a better understanding of it.

“We think of elections and campaigns as the way we elect our representatives,” Hong noted. “The step that goes before that people overlook is redistricting, which is the process of our states choosing the lines in which people will elect their representatives.”

Last month, the commission admitted to violating the Open Public Meetings Act at the end of the redistricting process in November, when it made decisions behind closed doors as the deadline for maps approached. A hearing for the federal Voting Rights Act challenge in south-central Washington is scheduled for March 25th.

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Erik Tegethoff headshot
Eric Tegethoff | WNS

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He’s also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

The above article was provided by Washington News Service. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content.

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