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Nevada Supreme Court (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe)

Opinion: Fair Maps Nevada Ballot Initiative Would Provide Fairness to Legislative Redistricting

The upcoming ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court would give Nevada voters the opportunity to change our state’s redistricting process

By Greg Koenig, April 15, 2024 3:26 pm

As an optometrist, one of my primary goals is to help people see more clearly. The primary goal of this article is to help people see more clearly when it comes to the importance of an upcoming ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court where they are considering an appeal that would give Nevada voters the opportunity to change our state’s redistricting process.

Fair Maps Nevada has filed two ballot initiatives that would amend the Nevada Constitution to remove the state legislature’s responsibility to redraw congressional and state legislative district boundaries every ten years. Instead, this initiative would create an independent redistricting commission that would hold the responsibility for redrawing the maps.

To provide a little bit of historical context here in Nevada, political boundaries are redrawn in the legislative session the year following the completion of the census. For the 2010 Census, lines were redrawn during the 2011 Legislative Session – well, sort of. 

In fact, Republican Governor Brian Sandoval had just gotten elected for the first time and during his first legislative session as governor he vetoed district maps drawn by Democrats that controlled both Nevada’s Assembly and Senate. 

Without the governor’s signature, the process was forced into the court system where a set of special masters was appointed to draw the boundaries for Nevada’s state legislative and congressional seats. These lines were used for the five elections from 2012 though 2020. 

In the 2018 Nevada governor’s race, Democrat Steve Sisolak defeated Republican Adam Laxalt, meaning that the governor in the 2021 Legislative Session would be a Democrat and with Democrats again controlling Nevada’s Assembly and Senate, this time there would be no veto from the governor to stop the preferred lines as drawn by out-of-state Democratic consultants.

Nevada State Legislature, Carson City. (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe)

Before we discuss the highly partisan nature of the current political boundaries in Nevada, let me first say that I do not blame the Democratic Party here in Nevada for how they opted to draw the congressional and legislative boundaries that are in effect for the 2022 to 2030 elections. 

If Republicans had been in control of the governor’s mansion and legislature, we too would have drawn lines that were favorable to Republicans. The lines drawn by Democrats were, in fact, so partisan and favorable to their own party that the non-partisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave Nevada’s new lines a grade of “F” on their congressional lines saying that there was a “significant Democratic advantage”. 

Again, kudos to whoever drew the lines for the Democrats, she did an amazing job from the perspective of the Democrat Party and that was her job. But this is not good for Nevadans overall.  

We live in one of the most purple and most important states in American when it comes to the presidential election. And while our state leans slightly towards Democrats, they hold only a 2 to 2.5 percent voter registration advantage in the state. This should not translate to legislative chambers that are very close to having each house holding near two-thirds Democratic super-majorities. 

If the Nevada Supreme Court rules in favor of these initiatives, I am urging my constituents and all Nevadans to sign the petition and vote in favor of both measures in this year’s election in November.


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Greg Koenig
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