Protesters calling for the passage of the Washington Voting Rights Act held signs saying, "Stop silencing our voices" outside the State Capitol on March 1.Courtesty of One America

The Washington Voting Rights Act, which is designed to fix voting systems that don't provide fair representation to minorities, has all but died in the State Legislature for the fourth year running because of Republican obstructionism. They refused to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote.

The bill would have created a state mechanism for underrepresented communities of color, like in the city of Pasco, where the ACLU says the municipal voting system unlawfully dilutes the Latino vote, to change their election systems to districts. That's what Yakima did last year, after a costly intervention from the federal government—and finally, it elected Latino city council members for the first time last November.

Rich Stolz, the head of the OneAmerica Votes, said there's still time left for Republican leaders to do the right thing. The traditional time for the bill to be brought to the floor for a vote was last week. This week, legislators are in a so-called "horse trading stage," trying to pass a budget. In theory, the Republicans could still agree to pass the bill.

"They [Republicans] remain a cynical barrier to fair representation for all communities in Washington State," Stolz said.

Support The Stranger

Yesterday, I cordially inquired with a staffer for the Republican caucus as to why they've let the bill die. This year, it got further than ever has in the past, having passed both in the House and out of a Senate committee. The staffer said he would find out what happened and get back to me. He hasn't.

Remember: To stop all this conservative bullshit, Democrats have to take back the State Senate. Here's how.