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Washington state Republicans protest court-ordered redistricting plan

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(The Center Square) – Washington state Republicans gathered outside of the federal courthouse in downtown Seattle on Tuesday to protest a recent court-ordered redistricting plan.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik adopted a new Washington legislative map back in March to create a majority-Latino voting district in central Washington.

The new map impacts districts represented by Republicans, including Sen. Nikki Torres, R-Pasco, who spoke during the protest outside of the courthouse.

Torres said that the new map intends to give Latinos in Washington a voice, but instead reduces the Latino vote. Torres added that the map was changed in 2021, helping the 15th Legislative District – which Torres represents – become a majority-minority district. However, Washington Republicans argue Lasnik’s new legislative map puts Democrats in control of the state.

“[The new map] is redistricting myself out and several other of my colleagues, which is not fair,” Torres said.

The 15th Legislative District includes portions of Adams, Benton, Franklin, Grant and Yakima counties.

“This changes a majority-minority district into a Democrat one to better advance a progressive agenda throughout Washington state,” Center for Latino Leadership Director Maia Espinoza added.

Espinoza is running for election to the Washington State Senate to represent the 28th Legislative District in Pierce County.

The new map joins Latino communities from East Yakima in Yakima County to Pasco in Franklin County. In addition, the district was switched from Torres’ 15th Legislative District to the 14th Legislative District, with the thinking being this will ensure state Senate elections fall during a presidential election year when Latino voter turnout is generally higher

“The Voting Rights Act is being used as a weapon against communities to divide us, rather than bring us together,” Espinoza said. “This effort in central Washington is frankly disgraceful and it undermines all of the work that Latino organizations across the state have done to improve representation in these communities.”