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Lawsuit: Pasco’s voting system weakens Latino voice

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SEATTLE (AP) — The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is following up on a lawsuit that forced voting changes in Yakima with a similar case against Pasco, alleging that the way the city runs its elections weakens the political voice of Latinos.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, the ACLU says that even though Latinos make up about one-third of Pasco’s voting-age population, no Latino has ever won a contested City Council election.

Pasco’s city council seats are elected citywide, rather than by district.

The ACLU’s lawsuit against Yakima forced that city to switch to district voting for city council. Last fall, Yakima elected three Latinas to the City Council — the first time it had elected any.

Pasco has previously said that it might welcome such a lawsuit, because state law bars it from switching to district voting, and federal litigation might be the only way to fix the problem.