Urge state legislature to adopt law requiring equal opportunity in elections
StoryMetropolitan King County Councilmembers Bob Ferguson and Larry Gossett today introduced a motion in support of the Washington Voting Rights Act of 2012, legislation currently under consideration by the state legislature.
“The Washington Voting Rights Act will strengthen our democracy here in King County and across our state,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, who oversees the county elections department as Chair of the Council’s Government Accountability, Oversight, and Financial Performance Committee. “Ensuring an equal opportunity to participate in the political process is fundamental to the integrity of our system of government.”
“Voting is essential to active participation in our democracy. The denial of the right to vote in our elections has disproportionately affected immigrants and communities of color,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “The Washington Voting Rights Act of 2012 is an important step to increasing the voter turnout in these communities across the state.”
If approved by the state legislature, the law will enhance existing protections under the federal Voting Rights Act. Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment’s prohibition against states denying citizens the right to vote based on race or color.
The Washington Voting Rights Act would promote equal representation by helping ensure at-large elections and district-based elections could not be maintained in a manner that dilutes the votes of a protected class. Under the law, voters could challenge local elections in state courts when a protected class is denied an equal opportunity to elect candidates of its choice or an equal opportunity to influence the outcome of an election.
The Washington Voting Rights Act is modeled after a similar law passed in California in 2002. Since California adopted its measure, there has been a significant increase in minority representation in local elected offices and in civic participation among minority communities.