A strong democracy that includes everyone is one of our country’s founding beliefs. However, in communities across Washington State, election systems have excluded people of color. Because of your past support, OneAmerica leaders passed the Washington Voting Rights Act (WVRA), giving voters the right to challenge voter suppression targeting communities of color. Because of you, OneAmerica leaders are primed to fight for fair representation in communities across Washington in 2020.
Will you give a gift today to build a strong democracy that includes everyone? OneAmerica leaders will be using the WVRA to fight for more fair representation in communities across Washington State.
OneAmerica leaders passed the WVRA after seeing how hard it was to fight voter suppression in Yakima City. When you drive across Yakima, the
difference between the east and west is stark.
East Yakima is home to most of the city’s communities of immigrants and people of color. While the more affluent west Yakima flourished, east Yakima continually was excluded from the resources they deserved.
For years, immigrant communities endured crumbling sidewalks, roads, and streetlights. Parks were in disrepair and community centers abandoned.
“Before the city council of Yakima was redistricted, we had two elementary schools that didn’t have sidewalks or enough streetlights around it. It was especially treacherous in winter months because families and young kids had to walk along the edge of the road when it was dark. Now we have sidewalks, crosswalks, and better lighting for kids. Improvements like this did not happen under the previous representation because we had no one championing our needs.“
-Audel, Yakima Resident & OneAmerica Volunteer
In Yakima City, the mapping of voting districts made it impossible for immigrant communities in the east to elect representatives onto city council. This backwards electoral system created a deeply unfair outcome – no Latinx candidates had ever been elected to the city council, despite making up nearly 50% of the city’s population. This exclusion of representation of immigrant communities resulted in immigrant communities being denied funding for basic resources they deserved.
OneAmerica leaders championed redistricting in Yakima and then worked with the new city council to drive change for their communities. East Yakima now has sidewalks, crosswalks, and streetlights for children walking to their elementary schools. There are plans to renovate parks that children once avoided because of disrepair and a long-promised reopening of a public pool is finally happening.
With your support, OneAmerica leaders organized and passed the Washington Voting Rights Act in response to the challenges they saw in Yakima. Voters anywhere in the state can now file a complaint if there is evidence of unfair representation, and their representatives are required to respond. Local governments can now choose to work collaboratively with their community on a solution. If local representatives ignore voters, voters have the right to have their case heard by a judge.
Unfortunately, the same undemocratic election systems we saw in the City of Yakima are still in place in many parts of the state. OneAmerica leaders will be using the WVRA to fight for more fair representation in communities across Washington State.
Thank you for your continued support as we make Washington a place that welcomes and includes everyone.