Judge Rules Yakima Voting System Discriminates Against Latino Vo - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Judge Rules Yakima Voting System Discriminates Against Latino Voters

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YAKIMA, WA. -- A federal judge has ruled in favor of the ACLU who claimed that the City of Yakima's voting system discriminates against Latino voters. 

The judges' decision that comes down two years after the ACLU first brought the lawsuit against the city. And now the judge ruled in their favor claiming that city council elections are "not equally open to participation by Latino voters." 

For some background, nearly one third of all voting age people in Yakima are Latino but the city has never elected a Latino to the city council. We talked to a Washington ACLU representative over the phone Monday who says this decision is a victory for free speech.

"Well obviously we are very pleased with the ruling," Doug Honig of the ACLU said. "What it means is that the Latino community in Yakima will now will have a chance for their interest to be represented on the city council. They'll be able to elect a candidate of their choice, and to have more of a say in how city services are distributed."

The Yakima City Council is holding a special, private meeting behind closed doors on Thursday to discuss the lawsuit. The city attorney told us on the phone that the city has two choices, to appeal the ruling or begin remedies demanded by the judge, which could mean a big change in how people in Yakima vote.