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A Wisconsin group criticizes two of its members of Congress, a new report says the Phoenix area cannot meet its groundwater demands, and Nevada's sporting community sends its priorities to the governor.

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The Senate aims to get the debt limit spending bill to President Biden's desk quickly, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis makes a campaign stop in Iowa, and a new survey finds most straight adults support LGBTQ+ rights.

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Oregon may expand food stamp eligibility to some undocumented households, rural areas have a new method of accessing money for roads and bridges, and Tennessee's new online tool helps keep track of cemetery locations.

Washington Voting Rights Act '2.0' Strengthens State Law

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Monday, May 15, 2023   

Voting rights in Washington got an upgrade this legislative session.

House Bill 1048 is designed to make the Washington Voting Rights Act a more accessible and implementable law.

Rep. Sharlett Mena, D-Tacoma, sponsored the bill in the House. She said it can be hard for people to challenge potential discrimination in election systems, even with Washington's original Voting Rights Act.

"Bringing these notices and communicating with local subdivisions is costly and it's complicated." Mena pointed out. "The WVRA 2.0 creates new ways to access it. It lowers the barriers to access the voting rights act."

Mena explained the new law allows for cost recovery for communities and also allows organizations to provide standing in these cases. Mena noted it takes the burden off individuals to bring forward challenges. Opponents of the bill said it was redundant and unnecessary.

The law comes on the heels of a case in Yakima County where a settlement in a voting rights act case changed commission elections to ensure the area's large Hispanic community is represented in local politics. Mena recommended communities across the state take a look at their local elections and governments.

"At a statewide level, I don't think we're where we need to be," Mena stressed. "I think when we just look at voter turnout data, or we look at areas that are majority people of color and we're not necessarily seeing the outcomes consistent with what those communities are in line with, we have more work to do."

The Washington State Voting Rights Act 2.0 goes into effect in 2024.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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