The cartoon by Rik Dalvit in the July 26 Bellingham Herald was revealing in that it pointed out the uniqueness of Whatcom County’s voting practice. Where else do you find a political entity that is divided up into districts but voting is entity-wide. The state of Washington is divided into legislative districts and voting is by the residents of a district only. The state’s congressional delegation is divided into districts and voting is within-district only. Even the city of Bellingham is divided into wards and voting is within-ward only. By what strange logic do we divide the county into council districts and then, in the general election, treat all seven positions as if they were at-large seats?
I was a member of the redistricting commission in 2011. Aside from achieving population equality across the three districts, one of our major criteria, agreed to by all five members of the commission, two Democrats, two Republicans and a fifth member chosen by the other four, was community of interest. It seems to me that at-large voting ignores an important principle we used to define the districts. Let’s get with the rest of the state and nation and adopt voting by district.