Braun guest editorial in the Seattle Times: A sham lawsuit threatens to disenfranchise WA’s Latino voters

Jan 3, 2024

By John Braun
Special to the Times

In 2021 our state’s bipartisan, voter-created Redistricting Commission set Washington’s current legislative and congressional boundaries.

In August, a federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in Soto Palmer v. Hobbs, who claimed the map of Central Washington’s 15th Legislative District violates the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA). The judge ordered the boundaries to be redrawn.

Under state law, legislators can reconvene the commission at any time should district boundaries need adjusting. Instead, special-interest groups, with the help of local activists, are trying to circumvent that process to achieve a predetermined political outcome.

On Dec. 1, the plaintiffs proposed five maps to the court. Four move Eastern Washington’s first Latina senator, Republican Nikki Torres of Pasco, out of her district into the adjacent 16th Legislative District. The fifth map would keep her in her district but slash her proportion of Latino constituents — now 73% — down to 47%

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