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Majority-minority districts: Why CVAP is key to voting justice

By October 12, 2021Blog

For more on the fight for fair districts for communities of color, check out our partner organization, Redistricting Justice for Washington.

In this year’s redistricting drama, one of the most important questions for South King County is how communities of color will be represented. A critical part of this is something called majority-minority districts.

A majority-minority district is one in which most of the population is non-white. This is a tremendously important tool to ensure that people of color have the ability to elect candidates who best represent them. In fact, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) mandates the creation of minority opportunity districts when possible.

However, it gets a little more complicated when we consider that the whole population in a district aren’t necessarily all eligible voters: in a district where people of color are 55% of the population, they may only be 45% of the voting base. That’s why, in order to meaningfully protect voting rights, and comply with the VRA, the Redistricting Commission needs to consider the Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) when drawing new district lines. 

A majority-minority CVAP district is one where the majority of the eligible voters are people of color. In Washington, over a third of the population is people of color: but in our 49 legislative districts, only one is majority-minority CVAP.

The 9th Congressional District, which encompasses South Seattle, Renton, Kent, and Federal Way, holds an incredibly diverse and strong set of communities and is the only majority-minority district in Washington. This year, we can create a 9th district that can become majority-minority CVAP by the next census. It’s critical to the voting rights of people of color in South King to have a district where our vote isn’t watered down, and we’re able to have a meaningful say in who represents us. 

I work with Redistricting Justice for Washington, a nonpartisan coalition of organizations from across the state that are advocating for district lines that increase representation for communities of color, and prioritize people over politicians. We believe it’s the responsibility of the Redistricting Commission to prioritize a majority-minority CVAP 9th Congressional District, not dividing South King and South Seattle into two majority-white CVAP districts. The Department of Justice has permitted redistricting commissions to use 2019 American Community Survey CVAP data given the 2020 census hasn’t disclosed CVAP statistics—the commission should use this. The commission must draw district lines that maximize people of color’s representation and voting power of communities of color.