|By Krist Novoselić|
On August 22, United States District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice ruled that the City Of Yakima’s voting system was in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling identifies the city’s at-large voting system as the culprit for racially polarized voting. In the next installment about this issue, I will argue that the problem is winner-take-all rules and not at-large arrangements. Yakima can use this ruling to move beyond districts towards a truly inclusive voting system for all its voters. Until then, let us look at a recent instance of racially polarized voting in Yakima County.
Washington State held a primary election in August of 2012. One race for a seat on the State Supreme Court raised concerns over the issue of racially polarized voting in the Yakima area. Election returns revealed vote count disparities in the race between Steve Gonzalez and Bruce Danielson. Danielson, an obscure lawyer from Kitsap County beat Gonzalez who was an incumbent by appointment to the bench. Research points to voters choosing the candidate on surname alone – voters simply rejected the Latino.