A judge has approved new election procedures and a district map for Yakima County, changing how county commissioners will be elected and resolving a voting rights lawsuit filed by an immigrant rights group in the now-majority Latino county.

Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Candace Hooper affirmed Friday a settlement reached in August that adjusts the boundaries for the three county commission districts. The map includes a district with a voting population that is majority Latino.

OneAmerica and the Campaign Legal Center in the lawsuit against Yakima County alleged the county’s election system violates the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchises Latinos.

Hooper called the new map fair and equitable and said it follows both state and federal law. She said she hopes the change will solve the issues involving dilution of votes by Latinos.

“I appreciate the parties’ hard work at distilling things,” she said. “(The map) has got to be a win-win for the citizens.”

Both parties agreed on all aspects of the settlement, said attorney Tiffany Cartwright, representing the Campaign Legal Center.


Cartwright said the map — which was not yet publicly available last week — keeps cities together, unites the Yakama Nation and gives Latino voters a voice in the Lower Valley.

“The map gives the Latino community a meaningful opportunity to be heard at the ballot box,” Cartwright said.

Attorney Brittany Ward, who represents the county, said the map respects communities of interest and maximizes the Latino vote.

“The outcome is to the benefit of the citizens in Yakima County,” Ward said.

While motions filed before the hearing noted discussion between attorneys about possible map changes related to the 2020 commissioner election between LaDon Linde and Autumn Torres, the county did not pursue changes.

The settlement also makes other changes. All three county commission seats will be up for election in 2022, and commissioners will be elected by voters in their respective districts in both primary and general elections. Two of the three seats will again be up for election in 2024 to align with the presidential election.

The commissioners are currently selected as single-district members only in primaries and become at-large candidates subject to a countywide vote in general elections.

The three county commission seats are held by Amanda McKinney (District 1), Ron Anderson (District 2) and Linde (District 3), all Republicans. District 1 covers the northwest corner of the county. District 2 spans much of the central and southern county. District 3 includes the east central corner and extends south.