The Senate State Government Committee has scheduled a public hearing Wednesday on Sen. Mark Miloscia’s proposed Voting Rights Act. His legislation would allow cities and counties to adopt legitimate, good-faith solutions to unfair electoral systems.
“We want to make more fair and inclusive voting districts without turning the districting process over to lawyers and the courts,” said Miloscia, R-Federal Way, chair of the committee, which will discuss his legislation at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Senate Hearing Room 1 on the Capitol campus. “We must provide local governments the tools they need to create the most effective, inclusive, and fair voting systems for their citizens.”
Cities like Pasco and Wenatchee have already expressed interest in district-based elections. Lawmakers have debated the issue in recent years without agreeing on a new law; Miloscia’s legislation (Senate Bill 5067 and SB 5068), the first on the subject introduced in 2017, would give cities and counties the authority to create district-based systems for electing local representatives.
“The Voting Rights Act would allow cities to take proactive steps to protect voting rights and avoid costly litigation,” Miloscia said.
Miloscia’s legislation would align Washington’s voter representation laws with the federal Voting Rights Act and would require active collaboration between stakeholders before pursuing a lawsuit.
“As a member of a very diverse community from many different backgrounds and cultures,” Miloscia added, “I understand how deeply personal it is to see diversity represented in government. I hear the frustration with our current system and believe we now have a way forward to reach a positive, bipartisan solution.”