Pasco Voting Changes Pushed by ACLU Violate State Law
The pressure being applied by the American Civil Liberties Union to the city governments of Yakima and Pasco over city council voting procedures are based on ideas that actually VIOLATE state voting laws!
The ACLU has been threatening a costly lawsuit against Pasco, claiming the way city council members are elected violates the Federal Voting Rights Act.
It is similar to the suit they filed against the City of Yakima, and won recently.
First passed in1965, the VRA was designed to prevent discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity in elections. It required, where deemed necessary, providing bi-lingual ballots, and did away with literacy tests often used in the South to prevent blacks from voting.
The ACLU claims Pasco's method of selecting primary candidates by 'district' voting only, then at-large voting in the general election prevents Hispanic candidates from being elected to the council. They want Pasco to be divided into 7 districts, and each section of town will elect it's own council member. They say at least three of the districts are predominantly Hispanic, and would allow several such candidates a chance to be elected.
However, their plan violates Washington State Voting laws. State law forbids district only voting, because it could allow the possibility for elections to be decided by ethnic and cultural choices. Discrimination or reverse discrimination could potentially result.
The ACLU has threatened, if not already filed, a complaint in Federal Court saying the present system violates the Voter Rights Act. However, they've been unable to change the state law, so both the City and ACLU have come up with a compromise plan they hope the court will approve.
If not, they will ask the Court to provide a solution, or as it's legally called, a remedy before the 2017 City Council filing season begins next spring.