Prosecutor Talks About Yakima’s Alleged Voting Rights Violation
OneAmerica describes itself as, "the largest immigrant and refugee advocacy organization in Washington State, organizing with and advocating for diverse communities." One way they appear to "advocate" is by lawsuit.
The organization, along with a handful of Yakima County Latino Democrats, have filled a lawsuit against Yakima County alleging the County's district voting system is in violation of the Washington's Voting Rights Act.
The charge is basically this. Latino candidates don't have a chance to win in Yakima County because, while a Latino candidate can get the most votes in a district-voting-only primary, that candidate will summarily lose in the general election when all voters in the County can vote. It's like white voters ganging up against and overwhelming Latino voters.
In truth, its Conservative voters (who happen to be mostly white) voting FOR Conservative ideas and candidates while Democrat voters (who happen to be mostly Hispanic) voting FOR liberal ideas.
If this sounds familiar it's because it is. This is the same argument used by the ACLU to get the Yakima City Council's district voting system changed. (How's that working out?)
Here's my two cents worth. The unspoken charge, cloaked in legalese is this:
Latinos can't win an election because in conservative majority Yakima County, Democrat ideas, Democrat candidates and Democrat policies don't resonate with a majority of County voters. One way to overcome that, without having to present better ideas to the voters, is to attack the system as racist and disenfranchising Latinos. (That didn't stop former County Commissioner Jesse Palacios from serving for two terms 98-06...Why? Palacios is Republican. His race didn't matter, his political ideology did.)
But OneAmerica isn't seeking district-only voting like the ACLU did in its suit with the City. OneAmerica wants a system called Ranked Choice. Why would that be? Here is just a guess.. According the the Ballotpedia website
"Broadly speaking, the ranked-choice voting process unfolds as follows for single-winner elections:
- Voters rank the candidates for a given office by preference on their ballots.
- If a candidate wins an outright majority of first-preference votes (i.e., 50 percent plus one), he or she will be declared the winner.
- If, on the other hand, no candidates win an outright majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated.
- All first-preference votes for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots.
- A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won an outright majority of the adjusted voters.
- The process is repeated until a candidate wins a majority of votes cast."
Check the Website, and please read the arguments For and Against the use of Ranked Choice voting...virtually no jurisdiction is using it because the person with the most first place votes ultimately wins most of the time ...so there is only confusion and more effort with little difference in eventual outcome.
So why then a change? My guess is because of the "Potential" for less popular candidates actually winning. From the Ballotpedia site "drawbacks have come into sharpest relief when second-place or even third-place finishers in the first round ended up winning the election."
In late January, the Yakima Herald (YHR) reported on Pierce County's Ranked Choice experience ..(Please read the entire article, it's very enlightening) "Pierce County is the only county in Washington to implement ranked-choice voting. Voters approved the switch in 2006, but after two election cycles starting in 2008 asked to go back to their former system." Two thirds of the voters said they didn't like it.
The bottom line for me is still as it was when the ACLU sued the City.
POLITICS, NOT RACE, is the determining factor of outcomes in Yakima County elections. Democrat ideology doesn't win in conservative Yakima County. The Latino community, for the most part, votes for and runs as Democrats here. That's why their candidates don't win. (except for Republicans Mary Skinner who served 7 terms in the legislature and Mr. Palacios who won two county commission races)
In hundreds of communities around the country where one party or the other is in the ideological minority, the electoral losers have few options and no federal assurances to gain victory, short of presenting a better, modified message that appeals to a broader voter base. But in Yakima County, where the ideological minority happens to consist of a large number of Latinos, who are a Federal Voting Rights Act PROTECTED MINORITY, it's a different story.
Here OneAmerica and the ACLU can play the race card and under cover of federal minority voting protections, the Democrat party can force a change of systems and gain an opportunity and advantage that it wouldn't achieve if it had to stand on its own ideological feet.
This is a Democrat maneuver with the intent of liberals hoping to gain elected ground in conservative Eastern Washington. Period.