Posts Tagged ‘reapportionment’

Republicans Release Redistricting Data, Lay Out Terms For Two-Party Negotiations

By Andrew Doughman | 12:45 pm May 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Republicans today announced they have released to the public a set of complicated data about their redistricting proposal.

Democrats had said earlier the release of the data is a requirement before the two parties can begin to work toward a compromise.

The release of the data brightens an otherwise gloomy portrait of partisanship. Republicans and Democrats have so far elected not to negotiate terms in the redistricting battle.

When Democrats learned of the release, they issued a statement saying they will freeze their bill, now before the Senate, so that Republicans and Democrats can compare their plans and look for “common ground.”

“We welcome this opportunity to finally compare these two proposals and look forward to quickly investigating the potential for compromise with our friends on the other side of the aisle,” Democrats said in a statement.

Republicans seemed to have answered the call of Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who asked Republicans to release their data.

“We had constituents calling us, so we thought we’d be open and transparent,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon. “The product wasn’t really ours. It was produced by folks who are working on redistricting for us and they wanted to make sure everything was correct [before releasing data].”

The data question had stalled any talk of compromise between Republicans and Democrats, who every 10 years must create revised boundaries for seats for Congress and the state Assembly and Senate according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

Republicans responded to the Democratic call for compromise, saying they are “willing to negotiate.” They did, however, lay out terms for negotiation.

Senate Republicans released a statement this afternoon in which they said they “insist” on pre-conditions for negotiation.

They want a fixed number of majority-minority Hispanics: one in  Congress, four in the state Senate and eight in the state Assembly. That quota is identical to what Republicans originally called for in their proposal.

They also called for eight competitive state Senate and eight competitive state Assembly districts.

“We believe the Voting Rights Act requires fair representation of Hispanics in the U.S. Congress, Nevada State Senate and Nevada Assembly,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas. “We also believe that no political party should have a monopoly on power.”

Democrats later rejected the premise for establishing terms of negotiation prior to meeting with Republicans.

“We stand ready, without preconditions, to meet and discuss a way forward,” legislative Democrats said in a statement released this afternoon.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has already vetoed the previous Democratic redistricting plan, saying it treated Nevada’s Hispanic population unfairly and did not comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.

The new plan is a second attempt for Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor to reach a compromise over appropriate political boundaries. If they cannot agree, the political tug-o-war could be resolved by a judge.

The gridlock continued yesterday as Democrats elected to hear their second redistricting proposal but declined to hear the Republican proposal since the Republican data had yet to be released. Instead, Democrats voted on their own proposal.

Republicans had said they objected to the way Democrats were moving Democratic bills without hearing a Republican proposal.

But Democrats had said they wanted an “open and transparent” process from Republicans.

The data would allow Democrats and members of the public to examine the exact boundaries of districts proposed in the Republican bill.

Although Republicans provided a bill, the 194-page document contains arcane references to Census block tracts, which are nearly impossible for people to visualize.

The Legislature’s information-technology staff has had the complex data, but Republicans had not authorized them to release it until today.

 

Democrats Refuse To Hear Republican Redistricting Proposal After Tiff

By Andrew Doughman | 8:50 pm May 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – After Republican legislators declined to reveal exact data for their redistricting proposal, Democrats refused to give the bill a hearing today.

Then, Democratic legislators voted over Republican objections to pass their own redistricting proposal to a vote on the Senate floor.

Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed the previous Democratic redistricting plan, which proposed revised boundaries for Congressional districts, as well as state Assembly and Senate districts, as required by the 2010 Census.

The new plan is a second attempt for Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor to reach a compromise over appropriate political boundaries. If they cannot agree, the political tug-o-war could be resolved by a judge.

Republicans  contended that Democrats were trying to blitz through hearings and pass their bill without making an effort to compromise.

“If we knew that there was going to be some meaningful working together on these maps and this other one wasn’t going to be pushed out like the last one was, we would be more than happy to,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

The statement, however, contradicted what Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, told the Las Vegas Sun.

“I’m going to call our guy now and see if we can’t get it released,” he said of the data in a Las Vegas Sun story published last week. “The public needs to be able to compare the maps.”

Yesterday, Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he would discuss releasing the data with GOP attorneys, but he first wanted a hearing on the Republican bill.

Democrats, who control the Legislature’s committees because they are the majority party, first scheduled a hearing for the Republican proposal, but decided not to hear it after Republicans did not release their data.

“We can’t have an open and honest conversation about these maps while the data is being withheld from the public,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “I would move that we move on and not hear the bill as scheduled. There can be no discussion or deliberation without the information provided to the public.”

Although Republicans provided a bill, the 194-page document contains arcane references to Census block tracts, which are nearly impossible for people to visualize.

Cegavske said Republicans have provided maps for people to examine, but Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, contended that the exact data used to construct the maps have not been made public, therefore making the maps impossible to analyze or evaluate.

The Legislature’s information-technology staff has the complex data, but has not been authorized to release it.

“I am happy to come to the table to compromise, but that’s impossible when the other side is not releasing all the data to the public so this can be a fair open and transparent process,” Horsford said.

Cegavske countered that Republicans want an open process.

“It is supposed to be fair and open and that’s all we have ever asked for,” she said.

She said that Democrats had “fast-tracked” Democratic proposals through the Senate and Assembly, which gave no time for true compromise.

After the hearing, Cegavske said nobody but the Democratic Party has requested the data. Holding the 194-page Republican bill, she said the data Democrats want is in her hand.

“All you have to do is work this backwards,” she said. “It’s all here … they can do it in a heartbeat.”

She said it was a “mistake” for Democrats to have released the Democratic data in the first place.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, who was standing nearby, said Democrats “want us to do their homework.”

During the evening hearing in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, legislators spent little time debating the actual merits or faults of any redistricting proposal.

Legislators briefly discussed the federal Voting Rights Act, with Cegavske asking if the Democratic proposal complies with the federal law and Democrats asserting that it does.

Legislators were chided during opportunity for public comment.

“The ACLU is certainly disappointed in political posturing on both sides of the aisle,” said Rebecca Gasca of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “We think that the Legislature is doing a disservice to constituents in this state.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democrats Introduce Revised Congressional Maps

By Andrew Doughman | 3:23 pm May 17th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Since the governor did not like their last redistricting plan, Democrats are trying again with revisions to their redistricting maps.

Gov. Brian Sandoval earlier vetoed the Democratic plan for the boundaries of political districts, which must be redrawn every 10 years according to U.S. Census demographic data.

The new plan is a second attempt for Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor to reach a compromise over appropriate political boundaries. If they cannot agree, the political tug-o-war could be resolved before a judge.

In a short afternoon hearing today, Democrats introduced and voted their second proposal, Assembly Bill 566, out of committee with Republicans again voting against it. Lawmakers could vote on the bill in the Assembly as early as tomorrow.

“One of the reasons we’re trying to move this stuff is because we want as much time as possible to consider them,” said Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who noted that the legislative session is scheduled to end soon.

Segerblom said that they did make changes based on what the governor had asked for.

The plan, however, provoked backlash from Republicans, who said their plan has never received a hearing, much less a vote.

Republicans also contended that the Democratic plans still are not fair.

“It doesn’t create enough competitive districts,” said Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson. “We want more competitive districts.”

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, noted that Republicans have not even put their data into the Legislature’s computer system.

“I’m not trying to start a fight here, but the Republican maps are not on the public GIS system,” he said. “I’m just perplexed whey we can’t get this information. I’d love to have this discussion.”

Democrats voted to have the Republican plan hosted on the Legislature’s information system.

The new Democratic proposal includes two solid Democratic-leaning districts, one solid Republican district and one district with a 7 percent Democratic edge.

In a statement released this past Saturday, Sandoval said he did not believe Democrats complied with the federal Voting Rights Act, which guides how states should treat ethnic minorities when drawing political boundaries.

So Democrats created a congressional district three with a 36.72 percent Hispanic population.

This district is represented by Republican Representative Joe Heck, who won by a slim margin over Democratic incumbent Dina Titus during 2010.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who saw the new proposals this morning, said that Heck’s winning margin was “inch deep” in the 2010 election, therefore making it difficult to keep his district Republican.

Compared to their vetoed plan, the Democratic proposal also moves Heck’s district solidly into Clark County, whereas before it had spread north into rural Nevada.

Heck is the only incumbent that Democrats and Republicans are considering as they draw new districts. Former Rep. Dean Heller became Sen. Heller after Sandoval appointed him to replace Sen. John Ensign, who resigned last month. Rep. Shelley Berkley has said she will face Heller in an 2012 election for that Senate seat.

Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned also Nevada one more Congressional District, giving Nevada four Congressional Districts.

In a Republican plan released earlier, Republicans had drawn one congressional district with a majority Hispanic population. They had also created two districts favoring Democratic candidates and two favoring Republican candidates.

New Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD01 675,138 0 31.12 47.33 22.29 13.03 26.28
CD02 675138 0 42.81 35.27 16.6 2.19 20.43
CD03 675137 -1 30.28 47.33 31.33 9.91 36.72
CD04 675138 0 35.27 42.28 19.3 8.99 22.7

Vetoed Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 31.9% 47.9% na na 33.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 36.0% na na 20.5%
CD 03 675,138 0 34.4% 44.1% na na 29.2%
CD 04 675,137 -1 35.0% 43.1% na na 22.9%
*former CD04 in last proposal **CD03 in last proposal

Democrats also offered minor amendments to their vetoed proposals for state Assembly and Senate districts. The governor had said in his veto statement that he thought the Democratic proposals were too skewed toward Democrats.

“At its core, this bill creates districts that were drawn exclusively for political gain,” Sandoval said in his statement.

Segerblom said he still believes there is time to compromise.

“It’s still early … lots of time to talk and negotiate,” he said.

If Sandoval vetoes this plan, Democrats may still have time to introduce a third proposal. So far, that plan is not yet in the works.

“There is no plan C,” Segerblom said.

 

Governor Sandoval Vetoes Democratic Redistricting Plan

By Andrew Doughman | 2:20 pm May 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed the Democratic redistricting plan for new Congressional, state Senate and Assembly districts.

Sandoval, in a veto statement issued today, said that the Democratic plan violated the federal Voting Rights Act, which governs how ethnic minorities should be treated when the boundaries of political districts are drawn, and was created for the partisan gain of Democrats.

The veto represents the first rejection of proposed maps, drawn according to 2010 Census data, in what could be a long path toward compromise.

If the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor cannot reach common ground, the drawing of political districts may become a matter for the courts to decide. Anticipating the veto, Democrats have another redistricting bill that they can amend and send back to the governor.

At stake is the political representation of Nevada’s Hispanic community. Sandoval charged that the Democratic plan would dilute the Latino vote.

“Of the four Congressional seats it establishes, not one contains a Hispanic majority—though such a district can clearly and simply be drawn, consistent with traditional redistricting principles,” Sandoval’s statement read.

A Republican plan that did not receive a vote created a congressional district with a  50.7 percent total Hispanic population.

The governor also said the Democratic plan would not “afford Hispanics an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choosing.”

In an earlier speech on the Assembly floor, Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, asked whether this logic implied that only a Hispanic majority could elect a Hispanic candidate.

“Nevada has proven that Hispanic and other minority candidates can and have been elected in minority influence districts,” she said.

Sandoval, Nevada’s first Hispanic governor, was himself elected with a majority of the white vote while losing the Hispanic vote.

In a Republican redistricting plan, Republicans created eight Hispanic-majority seats in the Assembly, four in the Senate and one in Congress.

Democrats spread Hispanic voters throughout more districts, creating two Senate, three Assembly and no congressional districts with a majority Hispanic population

Democrats responded to the veto and called the assertions that their party violated the Voting Rights Act “legally absurd.”

“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,” the Democrats said in a statement released following the veto.

Some have said that partisan politics are behind the rhetoric.

During the 2010 election, Hispanics overwhelming voted for Democratic candidate Rory Reid in the gubernatorial race and incumbent Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate race.

A Hispanic population diffused over many districts should then create more Democratic-leaning districts while a Hispanic population concentrated in one district should create more Republican-leaning districts.

Hispanics now comprise 26 percent of Nevada’s population and are a voter bloc that both parties cannot ignore.

One in seven eligible voters in Nevada are Latinos, the sixth-largest Hispanic eligible voter population share nationally, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Sandoval also said the Democratic plan seemed to benefit Democratic candidates politically.

“At its core, this bill creates districts that were drawn exclusively for political gain,” he said.

In earlier statements, Republicans had contended that Democrats had not drawn enough competitive districts and had created too many Democratic-leaning districts.

Democrats would have a voter registration advantage in three of Nevada’s four congressional districts in their proposal.Republicans would create a 2-2 split.

Republican incumbent Rep. Joe Heck would also lose a Republican majority in his congressional district under the Democratic proposal.

The Democratic proposal promises a 30 – 12 Democratic split in the Assembly and a 14 – 7 advantage in the Senate, according to voters registered Democratic and Republican in each proposed district.

The Republican proposal reflects a 26 – 16 Democratic advantage in the Assembly, which is the current ratio in the Assembly. The Republican plan for the state Senate would create 14 seats with more voters registered as Democrats and seven seats with a Republican voter advantage.

The Legislature is required to redraw the boundaries of political districts every 10 years based on changes in population released through the U.S. Census.

 

In Redistricting Battle, Political Parties Argue Over “Who Loves Hispanics More”

By Andrew Doughman | 7:00 pm May 11th, 2011

CARSON CITY — A Republican Hispanic governor will soon decide the fate of a Democratic redistricting plan that has both political parties embroiled in a debate over fairness to Nevada’s Hispanic population.

Legislative Republicans, who voted against the plan, and Democrats are each claiming they truly have the best interests of Nevada’s largest minority population in mind as they consider the boundaries of new political districts.

As political columnist Jon Ralston asked on Twitter: “who loves Hispanics more?”

But some people in the Hispanic community object to the odes both parties are singing about fair political representation for the Latino community.

Is the Hispanic community being used?

“It’s quite obvious,” said Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan Nevada group Hispanics in Politics.

He said he does not like the Republican plan for Congressional districts because it lumps all Hispanics together in one big group. But he also does not like the Democratic plan, which he said fractures key Latino communities into different districts.

“We are throwing the Democratic plan out of the window,” he said.

Romero said that he and other Hispanic advocacy groups will introduce their own plan for Congressional and state Senate and Assembly districts by the end of this week.

At stake is the power of a new voter bloc comprising 26 percent of Nevada’s population and one of every seven voters in Nevada, a number that could be higher if historically low levels of voter registration in the Hispanic community improve.

The Latino factor also makes Nevada a “key state” during the 2012 presidential elections.

“When you consider we’re about to enter a presidential election year, the Hispanic community is a community everybody is eyeing,” said Javier Trujillo of the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

Political parties could spend millions in attempts to sway Hispanic voters to the left or right, but every 10 years politicians are free — in fact, mandated — to choose the voters themselves. That is their business this year as the Nevada Legislature embarks on the decadal ritual of redrawing political boundaries in accordance with U.S. Census demographic data.

So far, both parties have accused each other of violating the federal Voting Rights Act, which addresses redistricting rules for ethnic minorities, in favor of partisan gain.

“They’ve clearly put their partisan interests ahead of what is morally right for the Hispanic community, and they’ve violated federal law in the process,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

Democrats said nearly the same thing in a press release:

“Republicans opposed these maps on a party line vote while trying to mislead Nevadans on the purpose the Voting Right Act to mask their own partisan agenda.”

The Democratic plan passed out of the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday and now awaits Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature or veto. It creates Congressional districts with Hispanic populations ranging between 20.5 and 33.6 percent of districts’ total populations.

A Republican proposal that did not receive a vote has Hispanics comprising between 14.4 percent and 50.7 percent of Congressional districts’ populations.

Republican Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 32.0% 45.5% 17.7% 9.9% 20.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 35.7% 16.6% 1.9% 20.4%
CD 03 675,138 0 40.8% 37.5% 12.2% 5.5% 14.4%
CD 04 675,137 -1 20.8% 57.8% 44.3% 14.2% 50.7%

Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 31.9% 47.9% na na 33.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 36.0% na na 20.5%
CD 03 675,138 0 34.4% 44.1% na na 29.2%
CD 04 675,137 -1 35.0% 43.1% na na 22.9%


Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned Nevada one more congressional district, giving Nevada four seats.

UNR political scientist Eric Herzik said during an interview today that behind the squabbling about numbers lies the political reality of the Hispanic vote.

“The issue is not whether the districts are in compliance with federal law,” he said. “This is politics, partisan politics. …They’re both about trying to maximize party influence in districts.”

He said minority groups, including Latinos, tend to vote Democratic.

During the 2010 election, Hispanics overwhelming voted for Democratic candidate Rory Reid in the gubernatorial race and incumbent Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate race.

“If you diffuse the Latino vote, you can create more Democratic-leaning votes,” he said.

Likewise, he said the Republican proposal to create a district with more than 50 percent Hispanic population is a “shield” and the Republican party’s public concern is not the “root of their complaint” with the Democratic proposal.

“It works better for them if they can give up one overwhelmingly Democratic district,” Herzik said.

The historical data, however, only goes so far.

Romero contended that Latinos are independent-minded and value fair representation over agreement with Democrats.

“If we did follow party lines we would support the plan the Democrats issued,” Romero said. “We don’t.”

 

 

Democrats Unveil Proposed Congressional District Maps

By Andrew Doughman | 1:39 pm May 5th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Democrats today unveiled proposed boundaries for Nevada’s four congressional districts, the political consequences of which they will debate this afternoon at the Legislature.

In the game of shifting political power, the Democrats say their congressional redistricting proposal creates three competitive districts with one northern and rural Nevada district leaning Republican.

Their plan could make Congressional District 3 less safe for Republican Representative Joe Heck, the current incumbent who won by a slim margin over Democratic candidate Dina Titus during 2010.

Democrats also say that their proposal is more fair to Nevada’s Hispanic population. The Democratic proposal offers Hispanics no majority-minority district in Clark County as was the case with a Republican congressional district proposal released last week. Rather, the Democratic maps show a Latino population dispersed throughout several Clark County districts.

Democrats released their congressional maps today, showing districts balanced by population, but with markedly different boundaries than earlier Republican proposals.

The question of the Latino vote has become a major fight between Republicans and Democrats.

Democrats would like to establish “minority influence” districts where ethnic minority populations comprise an influential voting bloc in several districts.

Republicans argue that Nevada should have a majority-minority “opportunity” district because 26 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic and therefore one of the state’s four congressional districts should be majority Hispanic.

Under the Republican proposal, Congressional District 4 would have a total 50.7 percent Hispanic population. In the Democratic plan, Congressional District 4 is 22.88 percent.

In Congressional District 3, Heck’s district, Republicans drew a 15 percent Hispanic district whereas Democrats created a district with a 30 percent Hispanic population.

Notable differences between the two proposals include the differences in Hispanic population and a 9.7 percent Democratic advantage in Heck’s district under the Democratic proposal.

Republicans drew Heck a district with a 3.3 percent Republican advantage for Heck.

In the new Congressional District 4, Republicans created a majority-minority Hispanic district with an overwhelming 37 percent Democratic voter registration advantage. Democrats would create a Congressional District 4 with a 22.9 percent Hispanic population with a Democratic voter registration margin of 8.1 percent.

Democrats also drew districts with a mind toward potential Democratic candidates in future elections. Current Assembly Speaker John Oceguera lives in the proposed Congressional District 3. Current Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford lives in the proposed Congressional District 1 and former Rep. Dina Titus is in the proposed Congressional District 4.

The Democratic plan represents the last piece of Republican and Democratic legislative district proposals. Democrats and Republicans released last week their proposals for state Assembly and Senate districts.

Republicans say their congressional district proposals offer two districts likely to elect Democrats and two districts likely to elect Republican candidates.

Republican Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 32.0% 45.5% 17.7% 9.9% 20.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 35.7% 16.6% 1.9% 20.4%
CD 03 675,138 0 40.8% 37.5% 12.2% 5.5% 14.4%
CD 04 675,137 -1 20.8% 57.8% 44.3% 14.2% 50.7%

Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 31.9% 47.9% na na 33.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 36.0% na na 20.5%
CD 03 675,138 0 34.4% 44.1% na na 29.2%
CD 04 675,137 -1 35.0% 43.1% na na 22.9%


The Republican and Democratic plans represent two different takes in what could be a lengthy process to hammer out a compromise between a Republican governor and a Democratic-controlled Legislature. If the two parties cannot reach a compromise, the drawing of political districts could end up in the hands of Nevada’s judges.

State legislative Republicans released this plan for Nevada's Congressional Districts.

Nevada’s state legislators must redraw political district boundaries every 10 years after the U.S. Census Bureau releases updated population and demographic statistics. Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned Nevada one more Congressional District, giving Nevada four Congressional Districts.

All districts must be nearly the same size. Map drawers use the U.S. Census total population figures for Nevada and divide those by the number of districts so that each district has an ideal size. The ideal size for a Congressional district is 675,000 people.

CLARK COUNTY DETAIL (DEMOCRATIC PROPOSAL): HERE

CLARK COUNTY DETAIL (REPUBLICAN PROPOSAL): HERE

Democrats Release Maps For Proposed State Assembly And Senate Districts

By Andrew Doughman | 5:03 pm April 28th, 2011

CARSON CITY — State legislative Democrats have released their proposals for state Senate and Assembly districts.

Democrats will debate the proposals together with Republicans during meetings of the Assembly and Senate tonight. Republicans released their proposals for new state Senate and Assembly districts, as well as Congressional districts, this morning.

The Legislature is required to redraw the boundaries of political districts every 10 years based on changes in population released through the U.S. Census.

Please click here for party registration numbers for each of the proposed districts — the numbers of which correspond to the current districts and those districts’ Senators and Assembly members.

The map can be viewed below or click here for the full-sized map.

 

Democrats today released this proposal for 21 Senate districts and 42 Assembly districts. In the proposal, two Assembly districts are nested within each Senate district.

The proposal has 30 Clark County Assembly seats, five seats in rural counties, six seats in Washoe County and one seat split between Washoe County and rural counties.

The Senate proposal has 15 Clark County seats, three seats in Washoe County and seat split between Washoe County and rural counties.

The Nevada News Bureau has obtained from Legislative Counsel Bureau staff large .pdf files of the Democratic proposals. They are available for download below.

 

A Clark County map with Assembly districts nested within Senate districts.

large Clark County Assembly district map with incumbent homes.

A large Clark County Senate district map with incumbent homes.

 

Washoe County map with Assembly districts nested within Senate districts.

large Washoe County Assembly district map with incumbent homes.

large Washoe County Senate district map with incumbent homes.

 

A large statewide (rural) Assembly district map with incumbent homes.

A large statewide (rural) Senate district map with incumbent homes.

 

 

 

 

 

Legislature To See Democratic Proposals For New Senate And Assembly Districts

By Andrew Doughman | 2:16 am April 28th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State legislative Democrats will reveal their proposed maps for the political boundaries of Nevada’s Assembly and Senate districts at 5 p.m. today.

The unveiling of the maps represents the first public look at what promises to be a contentious debate about the state’s political districts, which the Legislature is required to alter every 10 years following the release of U.S. Census data.

Sen.David Parks, D-Las Vegas, has earlier said that the first maps will most likely show districts that reflect the Legislature’s current size of 21 Senators and 42 Assembly members.

Senate and Assembly Republicans have not yet said whether they will join Democratic leadership in presenting proposed redistricting maps on Thursday.

The Legislature has a number of challenges in drawing political boundaries of Assembly and Senate districts:

  • Growth in the southern part of the state means current districts are imbalanced and one northern Senate seat and one or two northern Assembly seats will become southern seats. This means some northern incumbents will no longer have a district to represent.
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  • The Legislature must decide what to do with state’s two dual-districts, which Parks and others have earlier said will likely go extinct with this round of redistricting.
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  • The Legislature must consider protecting “communities of interest” when drawing districts. This could prevent rural Nevadans from suddenly being thrown in the same district as urban Nevadans, or keeping a distinct downtown community separate from a suburban community.
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  • The state’s Assembly and Senate seats also have wide disparities in population, which Assembly Republicans have said resulted from unfair maps the Legislature approved in 2001.

These challenges are compounded by the split between a Democratic-controlled Legislature and a Republican governor. Both will likely have to agree on the proposal to pass the redistricting bill.

Members of both political parties want the maps to be fair, but there may be little agreement on actual proposals. Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he will veto any plan that is not “fair.”

So a showdown between a Republican executive and a Democratic-controlled Legislature could throw the matter into the courts. Some legislators think this is an inevitability.

“The court will be the ultimate decider,” Settelmeyer said.

Others contend that they can work out a compromise.

“You go out there, there’s fights, there’s fireworks … but at the end of the day why would politicians put their fate in seven justices [of Nevada's Supreme Court],” said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.

The Legislature will also have to draw new Congressional districts.

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said he expects the Legislature to unveil and debate proposed Congressional maps sometime next week. Those maps will reflect the addition of a fourth Congressional district added to Nevada due to population growth during the past decade.

At today’s presentation, legislators do not expect to debate the proposals. Legislative staff plan to present and explain the maps, after which Senate and Assembly committees will debate the merits and faults of each plan.

Lawmakers Set To Release First Maps In Redistricting Process

By Andrew Doughman | 12:15 pm April 26th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State legislative Democrats plan to be the first to reveal their proposals for redrawing political boundaries of Nevada’s Assembly and Senate this Thursday.

Democrats will introduce maps of the proposed boundaries and then debate their suggestions together with Republicans in the Assembly chambers during the evening, said Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas.

The unveiling of the maps represents the first public look at what promises to be a contentious debate about the state’s political districts.

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, said that the first maps will most likely show districts that reflect the Legislature’s current size of 21 Senators and 42 Assembly members.

As such, the maps should reflect a shift of one Senate seat and one or two Assembly seats to Clark County, reflecting the growth in population in that county. The Senate map may also show changes to the state’s two dual-districts, which Parks and others have earlier said will likely go extinct with this round of redistricting.

Senate and Assembly Republicans have not yet said whether they will join Democratic leadership in presenting proposed redistricting maps on Thursday.

“At this point we don’t have any maps to bring,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Fallon.

Oceguera said he expects the Legislature to unveil and debate proposed Congressional maps sometime next week. Those maps will show the addition of a fourth Congressional district added to Nevada due to population growth during the past decade.

The proposed districts could affect many Nevadans. People currently living in predominantly Democratic districts could find themselves drawn into predominantly Republican districts. Rural Nevadans could find their voices drowned out by being in a largely urban district.

Nevada’s Legislature must redraw the boundaries of its political districts every 10 years with the release of U.S. Census Data.

Nevadans Outline Stakes As Legislature Plans New Political Districts

By Andrew Doughman | 4:00 am April 3rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – The budget is not the only thing legislators are cutting this session.

Far from the budget tug-o-war that snags newspaper headlines, legislators this session must kingmaker carve the boundaries of congressional, senate and assembly districts that will remain for the next ten years, or the next five budget cycles.

Along the way, legislators have culled public opinion through several hours of hearings throughout the state. The overarching message from the people of Fallon, Reno, Carson City and Las Vegas is this: align communities with political districts.

In Las Vegas, representatives from several community groups stressed the need to keep the city’s various minority groups together.

The mayor of Mesquite submitted a letter asking legislators to unite Mesquite in one district. The city is currently split into different districts.

Several residents of Fallon asked legislators to preserve the rural flavor of their current districts. They asked legislators not to draw districts that would leave rural counties subsumed beneath larger voter majorities in Clark and Washoe counties.

“Where do we end up as far as the rural counties are concerned? Is most of our representation going to Washoe County?” asked Bob Johnston of Fallon.

One Person, One Vote

Johnston’s concerns arise from a shrinking rural population.

Nevada was the fastest-growing state in the nation during the past 10 years. The population hit 2.7 million, enough to give Nevada another Congressional seat.

Since much of the growth occurred in Clark County – almost three of every four Nevadans now live in Clark County – Northern Nevada stands to lose one state Senate seat to the south, as well as one or two Assembly seats.

Clark County already boasts 14 of the 21 total Senate seats and 29 of 42 total Assembly seats.

These calculations set the size for a district.

Rules For Redistricting

After that, a variety of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and federal laws also govern how the Legislature must draw its districts.

For instance, legislators must make districts as contiguous and compact as possible while also preserving “communities of interest.

These are communities that would benefit from having a reasonable chance to elect a representative who understands their issues.

This could be a rural community whose legislator may know about water rights and ranching.

Or a community of interest could be a Hispanic neighborhood in Las Vegas that would benefit from having a legislator who understands challenges specific to Hispanics.

Generally, legislators want to avoid “cracking” these communities in two, or “packing” them into one small district.

There are, of course, also political factors like protecting incumbents and drawing districts with certain candidates in mind. Testifying in Las Vegas, Ellen Spiegel, a former legislator, asked for the preservation of districts that have elected female legislators. Andrew Murphy, representing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, noted that no district currently elects an Asian.

This combination of mathematics, geography, law and politics is enough to make anybody’s head spin.

“We hear words like ‘cracking, stacking and packing’ and understand that redistricting is a complicated process,” said Teresa Navarro, chairwoman of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, at a redistricting hearing in Reno.

Legislators have finished gathering public opinion about the districts. Now they will retreat to the Legislature, where they will draw maps at least partially based on the opinions they gathered in the field.

That is the idea, anyway.

Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said that the Legislature will hold some type of hearing after they release their maps.

In the cynic’s corner, others are unsure.

“Does it really matter?” asked Charlene Bybee at the Reno hearing. “Or is it something that you do because you have to and it is more of a show that you’re not going to consider sincerely when you’re making your decision?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.