Numbers Don’t Lie, Wish Everyone Else Were As Honest
The Yakima county Auditor’s Office has released more information on the 2017 primary election. Turnout is always an issue in primaries and in off year elections but the numbers here tell an additional story beyond interest or apathy. You can file these observations under “sour grapes, Dave” or you can file them under “we spent a lot of money and generated a lot of turmoil—and for what” or you can choose any other category you want based on your point of view, but they are what they are.
The supporters of changing Yakima’s election system said that the proof of a voting acts violation was the low turnout among Hispanic voters and a lack of elected Hispanic representation on the council. The judge’s remedy was to gerrymander a couple of minority-majority districts on the Eastside and do away with citywide voting, all but assuring an Hispanic would be elected to seats from Districts #1 and #2. It worked like a charm as the election of Avina and Dulce Gutierrez will attest.
The city’s oppositional position was that a district only approach to voting would be fair –electorally equal—only IF the districts were evenly divide among voters, not just persons.
As it stands now, the measure used to create districts is equal population only, not equal voting population. What that means is that each of the city’s 7 districts has roughly equal numbers of people but not at all equal numbers of voters.
So what? Fair question.
Does being a citizen and having the right to vote matter or count for something? We are a representative republic. My vote should mean as much as your vote so the people elected to represent us have the same weight of citizenry behind them.
If candidates in District (A) needs just 500 votes to win and candidates in district (B) needs 5,000 votes to win the inequality is obvious. The cost to run a campaign and reach potential voters is a greater burden for candidates in (B) and yet once elected each winner gets one vote. So if (A) is against an issue, their vote carries the same weight as (B) who may be in favor of the issue, even though (B) represents ten times as many more voters. In essence 500 can cancel out 5,000. Is that fair? The answer is equally obvious. No, it is not. So it went to the Supreme Court, where instead of taking a stand for fairness, the court punted saying it wasn’t their call to make and that it was up to each state to set up its own systems and requirements . Anyone thinks Washington State will look at and possibly change an issue that benefits the State’s left leaning legislative districts? Not a chance.
So get on with it Dave, what do the numbers show!
In District #2, an ACLU created Eastside district , 3,810 ballots were mailed out…that’s the number of registered eligible voters who live there. While on the Westside District #6, 9,311 ballots were mailed out. Remember both districts have roughly the same total population but there are nearly 3 times as many voters in #6 as there are in #2.
As of Wednesday 8/3, the rate of return in #2 shows just 421 were returned or 11%. In #6, 2,989 were returned (7 times as many as #2) or 32%.
So much for electoral equality and your voting counting as much as mine. The idea behind providing a fail safe way for Hispanic candidates to get elected was supposed to increase participation in the process that somehow the old system prevented. (It didn’t)
The numbers even show Spanish and Non-Spanish surname participation for a closer look.
In District #2 there were 1,492 non Spanish ballots issued and nearly twice as many Spanish surnamed ballot issued at 2,318. 256 of the non-Spanish were returned (17%) and just 165 of the Spanish surnamed ballots were returned for a rate of return of 7%. 23 to 25 percent would be the average overall return.
In District #6 there were 8,463 non Spanish surname ballots issued with 2, 856 returned for a rate of 33%. In District 6 there were 848 Spanish Surname ballots issued and 133 were returned for a rate of 15.6%.
Get to the point would you!?! OK.
The ACLU and Federal Courts turned Yakima’s Election system upside down and cost the city millions in order to provide a guaranteed opportunity for Hispanic participation that was allegedly denied under the old system.
Just 7% of potential Hispanic voters in District #2 even bothered to vote. 7%!! What's the problem? While twice as many potential Hispanic voters in District #6 voted at 15.6%. And they don't even have a judge's guarantee!
The new system changed nothing except to guarantee that with even one third of the campaign burden and at much lower actual participation rate, District #2 will carry the same weight to the council as will District 6.
In essence, the 500 will stand equal to the 5000. Will someone explain to me how this is fair?