Reporter file photo
Rep. Luis Moscoso
Moscoso-sponsored bill advances to full House, aimed at increasing voter access
February 15, 2013 · Updated 4:02 PM
Members of the House Government Operations & Elections Committee approved five pieces of legislation Feb. 12 highlighted by the “Washington Voting Rights Act” a bill aimed at ending voter exclusion and promoting diversity in elected office.
“We are a government by the people and for the people, and it is vital that we remove any barriers to participation to ensure citizens have a voice in our democracy,” said Rep. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia). “While many legislatures across the country have been erecting roadblocks House Democrats are focused on promoting citizen involvement and protecting the integrity of the vote.”
The Washington Voting Rights Act (HB 1413) would encourage cities, towns and other local jurisdictions to switch from at-large elections to smaller districted elections. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Luis Moscoso (D-Mountlake Terrace), would empower local communities that have difficulties getting community members elected in at-large elections.
Moscoso represents voters in Bothell.
The bill would exempt municipalities with populations under 1000 and school districts less than 250 people but would give citizens in qualifying communities the ability to bring action in state court if they feel their rights are being violated.
“Our country was founded on equal opportunity and it is vital that we make sure that everyone has a voice and an equal shot in our elections,” said Moscoso. “Creating smaller, more localized districts will increase the accountability of elected officials, help local communities elect representatives more in tune with their values and foster a greater diversity of ideas – never a bad plan in government.”
The measure now advances out of committee will face full consideration by the House of Representatives.