Posts Tagged ‘population’

Allegations Of Gerrymandering Fly As Legislators Address Redistricting

By Andrew Doughman | 10:50 am March 16th, 2011
CARSON CITY – When it comes to redistricting this year, the line from the Assembly Republicans goes like this: the “fair” process is unfair.

They say the process resulted in gerrymandering in 2001, when the boundaries of political districts were last redrawn.

“It was gerrymandered to death,” said Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Henderson.

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea started a sentence like this: “Clearly, the way it was gerrymandered in 2001…”

The Assembly Republicans have data from the most recent election that they say shows that the current districts are unfair.

More Nevadans voted for Republicans than Democrats in the state’s 42 Assembly races last year.

But Democrats won 26 races to the Republicans’ 16.

Furthermore, Republican candidates earned more total votes than Democratic candidates during the past decade’s Assembly races.

But Republicans won fewer seats.

When electing representatives to the Assembly for the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 sessions, Democrats won 130 elections while Republicans won 80. Click to enlarge. (Legislative Counsel Bureau)

The past decade has produced a 3-2 Democratic advantage in the Assembly.

After the 2010 election, Victor Joecks of the Nevada Policy Research Institute wrote that the current Assembly districts are unfair.

Among other things, he noted that the largest Republican-controlled district has more voters than the eight smallest Democratic-controlled districts combined.

But Democratic Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who is leading the Assembly’s redistricting committee, shrugged off the claims.

“If you don’t have anything else to argue, argue it,” he said. “Districts have to be equal population. You’re not going to have equal votes.”

“Common sense is wrong.”

Legislators drew all 42 Assembly districts with almost equal populations in 2001.

Every 10 years, legislators redraw the political districts based on the most recent Census data. They put equal numbers of people in each district.

It is people, not voters that define “fair.”

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, employs experts to help legislators edit the boundaries of districts.

He said legislators are mandated to draw districts of equal population. The voter population in each district may differ, sometimes markedly.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has already said he wants the Legislature to draft a plan based on equal district populations or he will veto the plan.

“What is counted and what is important is the number of people, not the number of votes cast,” said professor William Eubank of the UNR political science department.

Two districts might have equal populations, but several factors affect voters numbers in each district. Some people cannot vote: children, teens under the age of 18, prisoners and some immigrants. Other demographic factors also predict whether an eligible voter actually will vote.

So what about that 3-2 split in the Assembly when Republican candidates got more votes?

“It’s one of those things that common sense tells you is wrong,” Eubank said. “But common sense is wrong.”

The Growth Problem

Even so, populations grow or shrink, leaving once-equal districts warped.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden,  is part of the bi-partisan group “Fair Vote.”

He said the current system is not “fair.”

“I don’t believe the last reapportionment was fair to both parties,” he said. “We did not take into account, which I think we’re obligated to do, growth.”

Take Assembly Districts 13 and 22 for example. Republicans dominate both districts. When they were drawn in 2001, they comprised the outlying areas of Las Vegas.

Assembly Districts 13 and 22, at left and along the bottom of this image, are among the largest in the state because they absorbed population growth in Clark County between 2000 and 2010. (Nevada Legislature)

Now there are more than 220,000 people in each. Another Clark County district, Assembly District 11, contains 42,000 people. Based on the 2010 Census, a district should have 65,000 people.

So it’s a Goldilocks problem. After 10 years of population change, no district is “just right.” Most are either too big or too small.

Republican legislators point to these districts as proof of gerrymandering, suggesting that in 2001, Democrats schemed to lock urban growth in a few Republican-leaning districts. This would restrain Republicans from gaining more seats.

Making the districts equal by population could still help Republicans in urban districts because it would spread out Republican voters currently in those two massive districts.

“If we get districts balanced with people, then the votes will follow,” Goicoechea said. “We’re going to get 65,000 people in each Assembly district and call it good.”

If only it were so simple.

Nevada Gains 4th Congressional Seat In 2010 Census Count

By Sean Whaley | 2:01 pm December 21st, 2010

CARSON CITY – Despite a dramatic slowdown in Nevada’s population growth, and even some net out-migration for the first time in recent memory, the U.S. Census Bureau report today shows the state will gain a fourth congressional seat in 2013.

Nevada led the nation in the percentage increase in its population since the 2000 census at 35.1 percent to 2,700,551, even with some population loss during the current economic slowdown.

It will be the third new seat added in the past four census counts. Nevada added its second seat in 1983 and its third in 2003.

Now the Nevada Legislature will have to redraw the district boundaries to generate four congressional seats instead of three. This effort, and the redrawing of the legislative boundaries, will be a major issue for lawmakers in the 2011 session.

Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval said the gain of a seat in congress will be critically important to addressing the issues facing Nevada, particularly those at the federal level, and he asked for a fair redistricting process in the 2011 session.

“As the Legislature looks to take up reapportionment during the upcoming session, it is my hope the process will proceed in an orderly manner on behalf of the voters and not politics,” he said. “I plan to work with both the Assembly and the Senate to ensure the process is fair and balanced.”

Rep. Dean Heller, R-NV, who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District, welcomed the news from the Census Bureau.

“After much speculation, I am pleased Nevada will be receiving an additional congressional seat,” he said. “The Nevada delegation works closely together on issues important to our state and adding another voice to the congressional delegation will greatly benefit the state of Nevada.”

Secretary of State Ross Miller today said it was the strong response by Nevada residents that helped ensure the creation of Nevada’s fourth seat.

According to the census data, Nevada’s total 2010 population is 2,700,551, up 35.1 percent from 2000. The rate of growth in the last decade was just more than half of the 66.3 percent rate of population growth in Nevada from 1990 to 2000.

“The 2010 Census turned out to be a great civics lesson in Nevada,” said Miller, who served as chairman of the Nevada Complete Count Committee. “The outcome could have been very different had just a few more Nevadans neglected to fill out their census forms.”

For many years following the 2000 Census, as the population grew faster in Nevada than in any other state, most observers assumed that Nevada would gain another seat in Congress in 2010. But the demographics changed in 2007 as Nevada suffered some of the worst fallout of the economic recession. The state lost thousands of jobs and, as a result, actually lost population for the first time in decades. The state demographer estimates the state lost nearly 100,000 residents in the last two years, about a 5 percent decline since 2000.

“This turned out to be a closer call than we thought just a couple of years ago,” Miller said. “The thousands of people across the state who took a few minutes to send in their forms made the 2010 Census a success story in Nevada.”

Beginning in 2012, the population of Nevada’s four congressional districts will be 677,358, up 10,000 from 2000. Nationwide, the average congressional district will have a population of 710,767.

The census count is also used to determine how federal funding for a number of projects and services is apportioned to the states. Gov. Jim Gibbons’ SAGE Commission estimates that for every person counted, the state will receive $917 in federal funds for school lunch programs, family support programs, senior centers, job training, and new construction for projects from highways to hospitals.

The U.S. Census Bureau said this year’s count showed the national population as of April 1 was 308,745,538, an increase of 9.7 percent over the 2000 U.S. resident population of 281,421,906.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Acting Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank and Census Bureau Director Robert Groves unveiled the official counts at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“A big thanks to the American public for its overwhelming response to the 2010 Census,” Locke said. “The result was a successful count that came in on time and well under budget, with a final 2010 Census savings of $1.87 billion.”

The most populous state was California (37,253,956); the least populous, Wyoming (563,626). The state that gained the most numerically since the 2000 Census was Texas (up 4,293,741 to 25,145,561) and the state that gained the most as a percentage of its 2000 Census count was Nevada (up 35.1% to 2,700,551).

Beginning in February and wrapping up by March 31, 2011, the Census Bureau will release demographic data to the states on a rolling basis so state governments can start the redistricting process.

Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution calls for a census of the nation’s population every 10 years to apportion the House seats among the states. The 2010 Census is the 23rd census in U.S. history.

Preliminary Estimates by State Demographer Show Nevada Lost Population in 2009

By Sean Whaley | 11:42 am December 30th, 2009

CARSON CITY – For the first time in decades, Nevada’s population actually declined from one year to the next, dropping 1 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to preliminary estimates prepared by the Nevada State Demographer’s Office.

The estimates, which have not been finalized, show the state population on July 1, 2009 was 2,711,663, a decline of just over 27,000 residents for a 1 percent population decline compared to July 1, 2008.

The estimate is derived using different factors than those used by the U.S. Census Bureau, which may account for the differing estimates. The U.S. Censure Bureau last week reported Nevada’s population rose by 1 percent in the same time frame.

Because differing methods are used to make the estimates, the state demographer’s estimate shows about 70,000 more people residing in Nevada than the Census Bureau, 2.71 million compared to 2.64 million.

The preliminary population numbers were first reported by News Carson City, a Carson City-based news and information website.

The statewide decline comes after a 0.8 percent increase from 2007 to 2008, and a 3.6 percent increase from 2006 to 2007, showing the effects of the recession on the state of Nevada.

The census report from last week said Nevada actually experienced a negative net migration of domestic residents into the state during the year, which means more people left the state than moved here. The 27,000 population increase was attributed to births by Nevada residents and by an increase in international migration.

According to the state demographer’s preliminary estimates, Clark County lost more than 15,000 residents over the year for a 0.8 percent decline in population to 1,952,040.

The report, which is expected to be released in final form next month following any appeals by local government entities, shows Laughlin’s population declined by nearly 10 percent to 7,914 residents.

Some Clark County communities experienced growth, however, including Mesquite, which saw its population grow by 4.7 percent to 20,677 residents.

Washoe County saw a decline of 1.7 percent to 416,632 residents.

Even the fast-growing town of Pahrump in Nye County saw a population decline of 1.6 percent to 38,247, according to the estimates.

As further evidence Nevada may be experiencing an unprecedented population decline, the November report from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation cited people leaving the state as a reason the unemployment rate actually declined compared to October. According to the report, Nevada’s labor force contracted for the second month in a row in November, falling by 1.5 percent, meaning roughly 13,900 workers either left the state or were too discouraged to seek employment.

The state demographer estimates are used for a variety of purposes including revenue distribution between the cities and towns. The Nevada State Demographer’s office is funded by the Nevada Department of Taxation and is responsible for conducting annual population estimates for Nevada’s counties, cities, and towns.