Redistricting Meetings Scheduled

The Agenda for the first meeting of the Public Hearing by Special Masters to Receive Testimony Concerning Redistricting of Legislative and Congressional  Districts can be viewed at the following link:  http://leg.state.nv.us/MeetingDisplay/Agenda/A01Hearing-10-10-11-LV.pdf

This first meeting is being held in Las Vegas at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, Room 4401.


The Agenda for the second meeting of the Public Hearing by Special Masters to Receive Testimony Concerning Redistricting of Legislative and Congressional  Districts can be viewed at the following link:  http://leg.state.nv.us/MeetingDisplay/Agenda/A01Hearing-10-11-11-CC.pdf

This second meeting is being held in Carson City at the Legislative Building, Room 4100.

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NV GOP Demands Redistricting Quotos

On Friday, NV Senate Republicans released a statement in which they said they “insist” on pre-conditions for negotiation.  In it, they list their demands, which look more like quotas and problems in compliance with the Voting Rights regulation as it relates to packing the vote:

“Republican Legislators insist on the following benchmarks as a condition for redistricting negotiations:

  • 1 majority-Hispanic congressional district;
  • 4 majority-Hispanic senate districts;
  • 8 majority-Hispanic assembly districts; and
  • Enough competitive state senate and assembly districts to ensure that no party will have a monopoly on power”

Keep in mind, these demands are from a party in the minority in all but the rural expanse of the state.  According to the data posted on the Nevada Secretary of State site, Nevada has 406,986 Republicans, 466,512 Democrats and 233,252 minor party and unaffiliated registered voters.  Apparently the GOP Senators believe those 233, 252 voters belong to them and thus give them superior bargaining strength.  Well, I have news for them.  After what GOP Governors across this nation, and after what the GOP-controlled US House have been doing to union rights and women’s rights, they will hopefully have another serious think coming.

September 2010 Active Voters by COUNTY and PARTY (from Secretary of State site)

County Name Democrat Green Indep. American Libertarian Non-Partisan Other Republican Total
Carson City

8,654

56

1,148

137

3,315

110

11,107

24,527 

Churchill

3,185

11

612

57

1,534

36

6,830

12,265 

Clark

332,232

1,779

30,318

4,034

115,996

2,070

241,778

728,207 

Douglas

8,004

84

1,225

198

3,842

97

14,898

28,348 

Elko

 4,365

18

699

115

2,719

40

10,005

17,961 

Esmeralda

146

1

48

7

64

3

319

588 

Eureka

191

1

73

4

128

6

672

1,075 

Humboldt

1,583

6

255

43

921

19

3,369

6,196 

Lander

612

1

82

12

395

6

1,527

2,635 

Lincoln

887

5

99

10

274

3

1,425

2,703 

Lyon

8,223

65

1,775

195

4,050

107

13,038

27,453 

Mineral

1,355

2

158

17

352

13

1,139

3,036 

Nye

8,587

32

1,447

178

3,652

50

10,596

24,542 

Pershing

704

0

74

8

354

4

1,060

2,204 

Storey

802

11

149

21

398

5

1,204

2,590 

Washoe

85,339

890

9,612

1,581

33,224

1,245

86,050

217,941 

White Pine

1,643

9

202

22

624

10

1,969

4,479 

Statewide    

466,512

2,971

47,976

6,639

171,842

3,824

406,986

1,106,750 


Republicans may hold the Governor’s position, but Democrats currently hold both the Assembly and Senate.  That’s because the biggest voter numbers are in the urban areas (Vegas, Henderson, Reno, Carson City) and the majorities of those voters are Democrats and/or Democratic-leaning.  The GOP may be in the majority in all the rural counties, but the total number of those voters don’t come close to matching or overcoming the number of voters in the major metropolitan areas.

No matter, the GOP wants to gerrymander a solution that gives them an opportunity to take control of both houses in the legislature and the governorship.  Their answer, PACK the Hispanic voters into one of the new Congressional Districts so as to dillute their (Democratic) influence in the remaining three districts.  They also want to pack them in particular NV Senate and Assembly districts to dilute their (Democratic) influence in the remaining Senate and Assembly districts.  “We believe the (federal) Voting Rights Act requires fair representation for Hispanics,” Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, said. “We also believe no political party should have a monopoly on power.”  Thus, they believe if they pack the Latino vote, thus giving them an in-road to power and glory.

Packing— Concentrating like-minded voters together in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts. This gives the group representation in a single district while denying them representation across districts.  Packing is a redistricting device to concentrate, in a single or small number of districts, more Hispanic voters than are necessary to have electable Latino districts, in order to prevent the communities of color from winning enough seats to gain a majority of votes on a municipal or county board, or to win enough seats at the state level, to impact the formation and implementation of public policy.


Republicans, on the other hand, are accusing Democrats of cracking the Hispanic vote.

Cracking — Spreading like-minded voters apart across multiple districts to dilute their voting power in each. This denies the group representation in multiple districts.

Negotiation on redistricting has been held up because the GOP hadn’t made their redistricting data public, a condition the Democratic caucus insisted upon.  Republicans finally released their set of complicated data about their redistricting proposal that most of the public in general, will have a hard time wading through.  With that release, Democrats have now put their second attempt at redistricting on temporary hold in the Senate so they can determine if common ground might exist.

In the meantime, Latino leaders have come up with their own plan.  “We need to have influence with more than just one representative,” said Vincenta Montoya, chairwoman of the Sí Se Puede Latino Democratic Caucus and a coalition member.  Their plan resembles the Democratic plan, but with a few tweeks.

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Sandoval Vetoed Redistricting Plan

SB497 was approved on an 11-10 party-line vote Tuesday in the Senate and immediately sent to the Assembly, where it was approved 25-17.  The floor vote came three days after both the Senate and Assembly committees on Legislative Operations and Elections approved the redistricting plan developed by Democratic strategists. The Democratic plan contained in SB497 was passed by the committee before the Republican proposal was even drafted into bill form.

Governor Sandoval, in an overt act of partisanship designed to appease his Republican base, vetoed the common sense redistricting plan passed by the State Legislature. The plan adopted by the Legislature is supported by community advocates representing Hispanic, Asian American and African American communities, as well as cities and neighborhoods throughout Nevada. SB497 was based on neutral and traditional districting principles designed to ensure that all Nevadans have a fair and equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process and to elect candidates of their choice.

Well before the legislature had passed a reapportionment bill, before public hearings had been held, indeed before the legislative session had begun, the governor made clear he would use his office to advance his party’s political interests. Shortly after being elected, Governor Sandoval told the Las Vegas Review Journal, “in addition to my duties on the behalf of all Nevadans” that he had GOP job with responsibilities including reapportionment.

“Governor, all of your duties should be on the behalf of all Nevadans,” said Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin. “How can the governor have the audacity to say he wants a ‘fair’ plan, when his own words and actions show an unambiguous motivation to promote the interests of his own party?”

The Committees on Legislative Operations and Elections, charged with redistricting, held numerous hearings throughout the state to receive public input. The committees held hearings in Fallon, Reno and Las Vegas along with one video-conference hearing in Elko. The plan adopted by the Legislature was presented in Committees of the Whole, received two public hearings and a third day in which it was passed out of committee.

“It is disingenuous for the governor to complain about this proposal now,” said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom. “In over half a dozen hearings, neither the governor nor a member of his staff attended a single hearing or gave any comment whatsoever on-the-record regarding this plan.” Segerblom continued, “Clearly, the governor never intended to consider any plan passed by the Legislature and has always intended to pursue a partisan approach of gerrymandering by veto.”

One of the most consistent complaints raised by Republicans has been a legally absurd claim that the proposal passed by the State Legislature violated the Voting Rights Act. This claim has been thoroughly debunked by established legal precedent and numerous legal scholars. It is nothing but a smokescreen in an attempt to obscure the partisan ambitions of a party that has a pathetic record on issues of minority rights.

“There is a difference between protecting a community of interest and using one for your own political purpose. The Republican Party’s record on Hispanic issues borders between ambivalent and atrocious, so their sudden interest in taking up the mantle of minority voting rights must be examined,” said Hispanic Caucus Chairman Senator Mo Denis. “History matters. Motive matters. Simply put, you don’t let the fox guard the hen house.”

Denis continued, “Our community will not be used by the Republican Party in a transparent attempt to pack Hispanic voters into as few districts as possible in hope of winning more Republican seats.”

The State Constitution makes clear that redistricting is a mandatory duty of the State Legislature,” said Speaker John Oceguera and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford in a joint statement. “This is a duty that all legislators take seriously, and we will continue to meet our obligation under the law regardless of this governor’s unprecedented attempt to gerrymander by veto and use his office for the sole benefit of his party.”

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State Dems Unveil Their Congressional Redistricting Plan

Earlier this afternoon, Jon Ralston (Las Vegas Sun) published the Democrats’ suggested plan for Congressional redistricting:

“As you can see from the maps at right, CD1 (hello, state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford) is a North Las Vegas-centered district, CD4 takes in the other urban area (hello, ex-Rep. Dina Titus) and CD3 extends up to Churchill County (Rep. Joe Heck vs. John Oceguera?). Of course, these maps are far from final, but they are far different than the GOP maps, of course. Advantages are 16 percent, 10 percent and 8 percent for the Ds; CD2 is at 7 percent GOP edge.” — Jon Ralston

Nevada map: http://media.lasvegassun.com/media/pdfs/blogs/documents/2011/05/05/CD_-_Statewide.pdf

Clark County map: http://media.lasvegassun.com/media/pdfs/blogs/documents/2011/05/05/CD_-_Clark.pdf

Redistricting Plans Are Posted

Every ten years, following the Federal Census, the Nevada State Legislature is responsible for reapportioning and redistricting the districts for:

  • The United States House of Representatives;
  • The Nevada State Senate;
  • The Nevada State Assembly;
  • The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents; and
  • The State Board of Education.

Now that the Census numbers are out, it’s been confirmed that Nevada has gained enough population to warrant a fourth congressional seat.  That means, the Nevada Legislature must divide the State’s population as nearly as practicable into fourths for these four members of the U.S. House of Representatives. And, because of shifts in population within the state, north to south and east to west, those same committees will be looking at redistricting needs of Nevada’s Senate and Assembly districts as well.

Given the contentiousness of re-districting process, the courts, over the years, have culled a set of rules that these Legislative committees, regardless of political persuasion, must follow in drawing the boundaries of political districts:

  • All districts must be relatively the same size.  In Nevada’s case, that would mean that the  ideal size for an Assembly seat is about 64,300 people and about 128,600 people for a Senate seat.
  • In drawing the district boundaries, they should try to follow as closely as possible the boundaries of cities and counties and use natural boundaries, like rivers and man-made boundaries like highways, when it becomes necessary to divide communities/counties between different legislative districts.
  • Drawing district lines to oust incumbent legislators is generally not upheld in court challenges.
  • Districts should consider “communities of interest” such that they don’t carve up neighborhoods or separate groups of people living in an area that have similar interests.

The legislative committees charged with reapportionment and redistricting for the 2011 Legislative Session are the Committees on Legislative Operations and Elections in the Senate and Assembly. Yesterday, both those committees introduced their proposed redistricting plans.  Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas set the stage for the upcoming discussion of the Democratic proposal, saying:  “There are several factors that we will discuss today that guided the development of this plan, including reducing population deviation, following county and city boundaries, fairly reflecting the diversity of our state and restoring common sense and reducing confusion.”  Here are links to the maps the Democratic committee introduced:

The Democratic proposal for Congressional redistricting will be introduced next week.

The GOP committee presented their plan earlier in the day, which included Nevada Assembly/Senate maps as well as their proposal for Congressional redistricting using 9 different maps.  Noteworthy in the Republican proposal is that they made changes to the district numbers for each and every district.  That maneuver begs the question, “What exactly are they up to?” since Nevada law prohibits someone from using the word “re-elect” if the district number changes.  Here are links to the maps introduced by the GOP committee:

NEVADA ASSEMBLY NEVADA SENATE US CONGRESS

While members of both political parties want the maps to be fair, definitions of what constitutes “fairness” will see a few challenges before all is said and done in the Legislature.  For example, in looking at the Republican proposal, they chose to pack Hispanics into their proposed district #4, giving that district a mix that’s 51% Hispanic and 58% Democratic.  The Democratic proposal, however, includes a new concept involving two Assembly districts nested within each Senate district. Democrats said they introduced “nesting” in order to simplify and harmonize how Nevadans are represented at the state level.

Another notable difference between each party’s ‘state-wide” plan is the direction of the line drawing.  The Republican plan tends to draw lines east to west making the state of Nevada in the Congressional map look like a giant fancy parfait.  The Democratic plan, on the other hand, tends to draw lines north to south  instead.

Watch the news over the next couple of weeks as these two plans get bandied back and forth and a final plan surfaces.  Once both sides come to an agreement as to what our voting districts should look like, the approved plan will go to Gov. Brian Sandoval who has said he will veto any plan that is not “fair.”  That’s when we’ll learn how our Governor defines the term “fair.”

Local governments also reapportion and redistrict the districts for county commission, city council, and school board of trustees. If you’re interested in how that applies in your county or local community, you can contact your appropriate local governing body for more information.

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