Wednesday, according to KAPP-KVEW-TV, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, planned to hold a press conference Thursday, and announce they were filing a lawsuit against the City of Pasco over what they say are violations of the Voter Registration Act (VRA).

For 45 years, Pasco has used what some say is a hybrid form of City Council government. There are five districts in the City, and two at-large positions. Kennewick, by comparison, uses 3 districts or wards, and four at-large positions.

Where Pasco differs from many cities is that in the primary, residents vote only for the candidates who reside in THEIR district or part of town. Then, when the candidates are narrowed down,  every voter in Pasco citywide votes for their choice-even if the candidates are NOT from their district.

The ACLU claims this citywide general "at large" vote dilutes the Hispanic vote, and prevents them from gaining seats on the council. The ACLU says voter apathy is not a cause, as at least one Hispanic has run for council in each of the last 15 years, and six ran in the last election.

The ACLU wants to see Pasco divided into 7 districts, and each would decide it's own representative to be on the council through both the primary and general election. They say dividing the city this would would create at least three predominantly Hispanic districts, meaning likely at least three Hispanics on the Council.

Thursday, Pasco responded with a news release saying they will be considering over the next few weeks changes in how the council members are elected, and will be reportedly seeking input from voters and interested parties.

Pasco said they are looking at two scenarios:

"Under a district-based voting scenario, the City is currently evaluating two potential options for consideration by the public and ultimately the City Council:
·         Five districts with two at-large seats
·         Seven districts with no at-large seats"
 City officials say there are pros and cons to each of the scenarios, but some say this news release is in response to the ACLU lawsuit threat. Earlier this year, a similar suit was settled in Yakima over similar voting situations.
 Critics say the ACLU is simply bullying city governments into redesigning voting systems to allow certain groups to gain more power in city matters, resulting in more special interest policies and benefits.
 This story will be updated with more information as to whether the ACLU follows through with it's suit, or decides to accept the information released Thursday by the city.
 The ACLU had hinted earlier this spring they would potentially use the threat of a lawsuit against the city.
  The ACLU, however, failed to provide concrete written proof that the City's hybrid voting system specifically violated all or portions of the Voters Rights Act.


More From 870 AM KFLD