On June 14, 2016, Nevadans will be voting in their state primary. They are selecting the nominees for Republican and Democratic candidates to fill state and federal seats. The redistricting of Nevada’s electoral boundaries is a major factor for citizens to consider.
The Redistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) is a program run by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), and their goal is to secure laws about how district lines are determined. The number of representatives a state sends to Washington, D.C. can make a significant difference on whether each state’s needs will be met and if the voice of its citizens is heard. Nevada has no set procedure to use when determining how districts are defined.
Redistricting takes place when the census tallies indicate there has been a shift in the population of an area. When there is a decrease in the population, the number of seats are reduced, whereas, when there is a growth, the seats will be increased.
On a national level, this is an important process, because it determines how many U.S. House of Representative positions a state will be allotted. In 38 states, the entities involved in determining the process of redistricting include the governors and state legislators. The states have laws in place to assure fair and accountable redistricting takes place.
However, Nevada is not one of those states. For the redistricting of Nevada’s U.S. Congressional Districts, there are no statutes that govern how the process is completed. The Senate Committee on Government Affairs and the Assembly Committee on Elections, Procedures, and Ethics are the two governmental bodies in Nevada that make the determination of where the district lines are drawn. It is important for Nevadans to note that their governor can veto any changes to the district as he sees fit. There is no accountability, and the voters could end up on the short end.
On a state level, Nevada Legislative Districts are reviewed by the same committees. Once again, the governor may exercise his right to use his veto power.
The RSLC seeks to create a balanced and auditable accounting of how the individual states determine the redistricting of their districts. REDMAP stresses the importance of states having standardized, auditable procedures. According to their website, the redistricting that took place after the 2010 census was completed changed the outcome of the 2012 election. Their evaluation of why the Republicans secured a 33-seat margin was due to the way the states established the district boundaries.
In 2020, the United States’ next decennial census will be taken, and the statistics will be released in 2021. With the census only four years away, it is vital for all states to establish procedures about redistricting. Since the Nevada Legislature meets biennially, on odd-numbered years, there are only two sessions that will take place before the 2021 numbers are released.
Nevada is one of 12 states that need to implement structured policies about resetting district boundaries. There are candidates seeking office in Nevada who will bring this issue to committee and seek support and advice from their constituents regarding this matter.
Opinion by Cathy Milne
REDMAP: Nevada Redistricting Policies
Nevada Secretary Of State: Election Center
United States Census: What is the Census
Image Courtesy of Michael Contreras’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License