ACLU, Pasco lawsuit motion hearing today - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

ACLU, Pasco lawsuit motion hearing today

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RICHLAND, WA - Lifelong Pasco resident Bertha Aranda Glatt is suing Pasco in federal court with the help of the ACLU, claiming the city's at-large election system violates the Federal Voting Rights Act. Today, both sides brought new proposed redistricting maps to the federal judge.

Because of weather, it was all held on a conference call out of Yakima today.

After arguing their points, both the plaintiff and the city gave reasoning for the certain redistricting they outlined. The judge will now have a few weeks to a month to come up with a decision. 

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RICHLAND, WA - The city of Pasco will face a judge in federal court today.

This is the latest development in the ACLU lawsuit against the city regarding the Latino vote. The ACLU says that Pasco is violating the Federal Voting Rights Act with its current election system surrounding their city council seats.

If this sounds familiar, that's because it is; just a couple years ago this happened in Yakima.

Back in August, long-time Pasco resident Bertha Aranda Glatt and the ACLU filed their lawsuit, fighting for what they say is a better representation for the Latino community in the city.

Reporter Crystal Garcia spoke to one of the attorneys representing Bertha today, La Rond Baker, and she told her that they believe all seven seats on the council should be split up into single voting districts in order to ensure proper representation.

Baker explained why this fight is so important to Bertha. "It's been a concern of hers for quite some time," Baker said. "She did run for city council and has the experience of being impacted by the at-large election system and the vote dilution that occurs."

That "at-large" system means that in the general election, anyone living within the city can vote for any candidate to fill the seat, regardless of the primary elections district voting system. The ACLU says that system makes it impossible for Latinos to get elected.

With that, Bertha's attorney told us that they are looking forward to sharing their solution of seven single voting districts - like the one in Yakima - to a federal judge today.

Both the ACLU and the city of Pasco will present their solutions to a federal judge to make a decision on what is best suited for the community. It is an issue stemming from the state law that has an at-large voting system in place for years.

The city says that because of the state law, they have been unable to fix the under-representation of the Latino community in their city council. At today's motion hearing, the city will present a solution.

"The city believes that its proposed system is in compliance," says Deputy City Manager Stan Strebel, "and that it meets the requirements."

That system would have six single voting districts, with one council seat elected at large.

The possible results from today's hearing are:

1. The judge will decide to impose the ACLU's seven districts.

2. The judge can impose the city's six districts with one at large, or

3. The court can create their own system for Pasco.

Whichever decision is made today, that federal ruling will nullify the state law.

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