Published on Jan 21, 2019

Proposed changes to the Voting Rights Act

Contact: Candice Bock, Shannon McClelland

A bill has been introduced that clarifies that all council seats would be up for election when redistricting under the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

SB 5266, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D–Seattle), adds language that removes any confusion as to which council positions are impacted by redistricting – all positions. The bill does not change the timeline of which election is considered the “next election” for purposes of implementing the redistricting plan. That is still determined by the timing of the adopted redistricting plan (if adopted between the first Tuesday of November and January 15, the “next election” is that coming November. If not during that timeframe, then the “next election” is the following calendar year).

SB 5266 also adds provisions to clarify that all cities – charter, second-class, and code – are impacted if redistricting under the VRA. If dividing into wards or districts (only for charter cities) for non-VRA purposes (i.e. uneven population growth or decline), the city would continue to comply with the laws that govern that process – RCWs 35.22.370; 35.23.051; 35.23.850; and 35A.12.180, respectively.

The bill is retroactive, and if passed, goes into effect January 16. This will impact any cities currently redistricting under the VRA who did not adopt an ordinance or charter amendment prior to that date.

Please contact Candice or Shannon with any feedback.

 

Dates to remember


SB 5266 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee at 8 am on Wednesday, January 23.

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