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Federal judge orders redrawing of Yakima Valley legislative district

A map depicts Washington Legislative District 15.
Washington State Redistricting Commission
A map of Washington Legislative Dist. 15.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered Washington to redraw a legislative district in the Yakima Valley region because its current boundaries undermine the ability of Latino voters to participate equally in the elections.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik invalidated the map for the 15th Legislative District drawn by the bipartisan state Redistricting Commission in 2021. The district encompasses parts of five counties in south-central Washington and is represented by three Republicans.

The boundaries of the 15th Legislative District.

The question in this case is whether the state has engaged in line-drawing which, in combination with the social and historical conditions in the Yakima Valley region, impairs the ability of Latino voters in that area to elect their candidate of choice on an equal basis with other voters. The answer is yes,” Lasnik writes in his 32-page decision.

Lasnik’s ruling calls for the state to reconvene the Redistricting Commission and draw up new boundaries. Those are due to the state Legislature by Jan. 8, 2024, for enactment by Feb. 7.

If the commission is unable to meet the January deadline, the federal court will intercede.

“Regardless whether the State or the Court adopts the new redistricting plan, it will be transmitted to the Secretary of State on or before March 25, 2024, so that it will be in effect for the 2024 elections,” he concluded.


This story was originally publishedby Washington State Standard.