Mar 18, 2024 - Politics

Federal judge decides Washington's new political map

Animated illustration of Washington state with red and blue districts in it changing shape.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A federal judge has decided on new boundaries for a contested legislative district in Washington's Yakima Valley, after ruling last year that the earlier lines violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

Why it matters: The new district map is designed to give Hispanic voters equal opportunity to elect their preferred candidates in Central Washington, which has a large Hispanic population.

Yes, but: The new map, which U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik approved Friday, will uproot three Republican state senators and two Republican state House members, including a Hispanic senator who represents much of the area, the Washington State Standard reports.

Zoom in: The revised 15th Legislative District, which now will be known as the 14th Legislative District, unifies Hispanic communities from East Yakima to Pasco, while keeping the Yakama Nation in one district, Lasnik wrote in his latest ruling.

What they're saying: Switching from an odd-numbered district to an even-numbered one ensures that "state Senate elections will fall on a presidential year when Latino voter turnout is generally higher," Lasnik wrote.

  • The updated district also has a higher Native American voting-age population than other proposals the court considered, the judge added.

What's next: Opponents of the new district boundaries have already filed notice that they are appealing Lasnik's decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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