Project Announcement: The History and Lessons of Latino Under-Representation in Washington State

“State of the State” researchers (left to right) Christine Kiely, Lauren McCullough, and Seth Dawson.

A Promise of Democracy –

This project is the collaborative effort of three seniors at Whitman College – Christine Kiely, Lauren McCullough and Seth Dawson – working in conjunction with Joaquin Avila and the National Voting Rights Advocacy Initiative. Through a detailed examination of electoral histories across ten counties and interviews with prominent members of various Latino communities, we are uncovering an ongoing narrative of Latino under-representation in local politics. Our research will ultimately extend back to 1982, the year the protections of the Voting Rights Act were last expanded, and we expect it to substantiate our preliminary findings of pervasive under-representation. Most distressingly, it seems as though Washington State law may force local jurisdictions to use electoral systems which have been shown to suppress minority representation. In the coming weeks we hope to explore avenues through which Latino communities might address this persistent denial of representation through the examination of various electoral reforms (both state and local) and the investigation of potential catalysts for increased civic engagement. Please check back in December for our complete report.

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