The suit alleges the Washington State Redistricting Commission’s state map in the Yakima Valley dilutes votes for the region’s growing population of Washingtonians of Latin heritage.
Ernest Herrera, western regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is part of the lawsuit, explained the group’s concern.
“This map was drawn in a manner that creates what we call a facade district, meaning it is a district that is meant to appear to give Latinos an opportunity to elect but does not actually give them an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” Herrera pointed out.
District 15, the district in question, has a Latino voting population of 50.02% and, the suit alleges, cuts out heavily Latino populations in cities such as Yakima and Toppenish. The commission said it did not want to split up the Yakama Reservation, which is in the 14th District.
But Herrera argued the map resulted in a racial gerrymandering. He said even if it wasn’t intentional, it is a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act, which laid out what is required in redistricting.
“Minorities are entitled to a district where they are sufficiently numerous, meaning eligible voters; where there is racially polarized voting, meaning the majority group, usually white people, votes in opposition to whoever the minority group wants; and where there is a history of discrimination,” Herrera outlined.
Herrera added it also has an effect on the people who live in the region.
“Beyond the law, beyond the federal law, here you have Latinos in the Yakima Valley region and Pasco who are trying to elect representatives who are going to improve their lives and represent them in state government and in local government,” Herrera emphasized.
Herrera noted the trial is scheduled to begin next January, although the state of Washington has filed a motion to push the date back at least six months.
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.