First Lawsuit Filed Over Democratic Redistricting Plan (SB-1)
Assm. Gregory Hafen (R-Pahrump) and constituent claim extreme, partisan gerrymandering
By Megan Barth, November 26, 2021 11:17 am
As reported by The Nevada Globe, SB-1, the unpopular redistricting bill signed by Governor Steve Sisolak, is headed to the courtroom. In an interview with Assm. Jim Wheeler and from our on-the- ground reporting from Carson City during the 33rd Special Legislative Session, “everyone hated the new maps“, including unelected Democrats. Only one elected Democrat, Assm. Edgar Flores (AD-28) sided with Republicans and voted “No.”
The filing of a lawsuit was confirmed per The Las Vegas Review Journal:
“A Nevada assemblyman has filed a lawsuit challenging the redistricting plan approved by a Democratic majority during a special session this month, contending it dilutes the votes of residents of rural Pahrump.
The lawsuit, filed by Assemblyman Gregory Hafen II, R-Pahrump, and a constituent, John Koenig, was filed Nov. 17 in Carson City District Court, one day after the maps were approved by a Democratic majority in both houses and signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak. It was filed by Carson City attorney Karen Peterson, and names the state and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske as plaintiffs.
The lawsuit seeks to prevent Cegavske from holding elections under the newly redrawn maps.
‘(Senate Bill 1) has the effect of denying voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process of electing candidates of their choice in violation of state and federal law,” the lawsuit claims. “SB 1 appears to be an intentional extreme partisan gerrymander that dilutes votes and prevents voters from electing candidates of their choice.’
Specifically, it complains that the new maps divide the city of Pahrump — currently contained within Hafen’s Assembly District 36 — into two separate Assembly districts. Koenig, currently a Hafen constituent, would be placed in neighboring Assembly District 33 in the new map.
‘More than half of Pahrump is being moved into Assembly District 33 with an urban area of metropolitan Las Vegas and Clark County, which has the effect of lumping rural Nye County voters and metropolitan Clark County voters in one district despite sharing little to anything in common,’ the lawsuit claims. ‘This split appears to be aimed at ensuring Pahrump voters do not have sufficient voting power to join together and elect a candidate of their choice.’
The lawsuit asks the court to declare the newly redrawn maps unconstitutional, specifically citing Article 2, Section 1(A), the voters bill of rights, which says voters have the right ‘to equal access to the elections system, without discrimination, including without limitation, discrimination on the basis of race, age, disability, military service, employment or overseas residence.’
The lawsuit will be heard by Judge James T. Russell, the same judge who in 2011 oversaw a panel of special masters that drew political district lines after then-Gov. Brian Sandoval twice vetoed plans passed by the Democratic Legislature that year.”
When Assembly Leader Jason Frierson was asked about the criticism from the Hispanic community regarding the Democratic majority’s maps, Frierson replied, “there are a significantly larger amount of districts that have a 20% or more Latino district. The process isn’t a perfect one but we believe that we have reflected the diversity of the state.” Frierson also stated that he expected a lawsuit but added that the majority had created maps that would stand up to any legal challenge.
The Nevada Globe has reached out to Assm. Hafen and will update accordingly.
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