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Published on Thursday, April 28, 2016

Voting Rights and district elections proposals fail to pass

For the past several years, voting rights proponents have advanced a bill that would allow members of a protected class to file an action against a local government in the case of polarized voting. This action would require local governments to review their election processes and change their electoral system or face a legal challenge. Similar proposals have been advanced each of the past three years, and each time the proposals die prior to adjournment. It is expected a similar proposal will be reintroduced in the 2017 legislative session.

On a related topic, a bill was introduced this year that would clear the way for code cities and second class cities to establish district-based or hybrid systems for electing council members, either through ordinance or city or town initiative, if initiatives are authorized. In addition, second class cities and towns that expand the number of city or town council positions from five to seven would be able to redistrict either by ordinance or city or town initiative, if initiatives are authorized. This proposal was introduced in response to the concern raised that affected cities could not establish district-based or hybrid election systems unless authority was clarified. As with the voting rights bill, this proposal did not advance this year, but may very well be reintroduced next session.

BillTracker Bill # Descriptive title Final status
  HB 2427 Authorizing local governments to use electronic signatures Law; Effective 6/9/2016
  HB 1745 Establishing a WA State Voting Rights Act Failed
  SB 6315 Authorizing local governments to use electronic signatures Failed
Yes SB 6129 Allowing cities and counties to choose to conduct district-based elections Failed
Yes SB 6645 Requiring cities and counties to enter into binding mediation under certain circumstances Failed
  SB 6530 Providing public notices of public health, safety, and welfare in a language other than English Failed
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