New hearing is scheduled for WA redistricting map case

Washington state Redistricting. Legislative District 15th remedial map.
An evidentiary hearing in the Yakima County redistricting lawsuit will focus on Remedial Map 3A proposed by plaintiffs. (Credit: Capture from Court documents)



A hearing before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington should help define the future of a legislative district in the Yakima Valley. Supporters say the redrawn map proposals could preserve the Latino vote but opponents say it could dilute the native vote.

An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for March 8. It is the latest chapter following the 2022 lawsuit that challenged Washington’s redistricting map to preserve the Latino vote in the Yakima Valley.

The initial lawsuit claimed the original redistricting maps dilute the Latino vote and violate the Federal Voting Rights Act in Legislative District 15.

In August 2023, District Court Judge Robert Lasnik ruled the map must be redrawn.

The court decision noted that if the commission was not able to redraw the maps, the parties shall present proposed maps for the court’s consideration before January 15, 2024.

Aseem Mulji is one of the people representing the plaintiffs. He said only the plaintiffs sent map proposals.

“The plaintiffs submitted five proposed maps on December 1. The state did not submit any proposed maps nor did the intervenors on the case. Fairly unusual,” Mulji said. 

According to court documents, the intervenors in the case consider “the Court should reject all of Plaintiffs’ remedial proposals, which purport to “remedy” voter dilution through additional dilution.”

The state considered many aspects in its response, including the impact on counties and elected officials that could be displaced with new map boundaries.

“On January 5 the plaintiffs filed, sort of, five slightly tweaked proposals to address certain concerns that the intervenors had raised in their responses,” said Mulji.

It added five more options to the initial map proposals, said Mulji. Experts from both sides analyzed the suggestions.

Now, a critical issue being considered is preserving a portion of the Yakama Indian Reservation in District 14 to avoid diluting the Indigenous vote.

The Confederated Tribes of the Yakama Nation sent a letter to the State Attorney Genera’sl Office, mentioning “none of the remedial maps represent the Yakama Nation’s interests to the same degree as the current 14th Legislative District.”  

In a statement to the Court, the letter mentioned that all proposed maps include the Yakama Reservation within a single district, and their response is narrowly tailored to address the Yakama Nation’s Public Domain Allotments, Treaty Fishing Access Sites (“TFAS”), and TFAS shared-use sites in Klickitat County, Washington.” The hearing set for March 8 will focus particularly on Map 3A proposed by the plaintiffs.