Local News Washington

Central Washington legislative map redrawn by Federal Judge

Central Washington legislative map redrawn by Federal Judge

Seattle, WA: U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik approved a revised Washington state legislative plan that would establish a central Washington voting district populated primarily by Latinos, with the general election just over eight months away.

Following his August 2023 finding in Soto Palmer v. Hobbs, in which he ruled that the legislative maps drawn for the Yakima Valley in 2021 by the Washington State Redistricting Commission “cracked” or diluted the Latino vote, Lasnik now makes his decision.

After the Washington State Redistricting Commission finished its job, the state and Secretary of State Steve Hobbs were sued, and Lasnik was the one who made the decision. The initial map was deemed non-compliant with federal voting rights law, according to the plaintiffs.

The new map connects Latino neighborhoods in Yakima County’s East Yakima to Franklin County’s Pasco. Furthermore, the district was renumbered from the 15th to the 14th Legislative District with the hopes that state Senate elections would take place in a year when Latino voter turnout is often higher, coinciding with the presidential election.

Republican Nikki Torres of Pasco would lose her seat if a federal court were to redraft the contested lines of the 15th Legislative District, according to conservative Latino groups in the state. The senator’s own opinion on Friday’s ruling is negative.

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Judge Lasnik has “personally disappointed” Torres, according to his statement. “A partisan gerrymander of the Washington state redistricting map was allowed by him because he allowed the misuse of the Voting Rights Act.”

“This map DECREASES the numbers of Hispanics in Washington’s Majority-Minority district,” she continued.

“I am taken out of my district by this map. I can remain for the next two years, but after that, I will no longer be able to assist the constituents with whom I have a deep connection and whom I am passionate about serving.

Another group that issued a statement condemning Lasnik’s decision was the Washington State Republican Party.

In a statement, WAGOP expressed their dismay at federal Judge Robert Lasnik’s ruling on the recent legislative redistricting plan in their state. In his judgment, Lasnik partisanly and overly intervenes in the legitimate and orderly work of the Washington Redistricting Commission. Unlike many states, Washington has relied on a bipartisan redistricting panel for decades, which has kept partisan wrangling at bay.

From a legal standpoint, the Republican Party proposed a course of action.

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At the end of the statement, it was stated that Lasnik’s opinion was incorrect. “It should be overturned and appealed. The state’s redistricting issues will most likely be required to be resolved in a more acceptable manner by an impartial appeals court.

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