Rural Nevada residents take legal action against new district map

Residents of a Republican-leaning rural town that the Nevada legislature divided into two assembly districts filed a lawsuit last week challenging the state’s district maps.

John Koenig and Gregory Hafen II, a Republican who represents Pahrump at the Statehouse, argued the cards had passed by the legislature controlled by Democrats and enacted by Gov. Steve Sisolak are drawn in a way that denies voters their right to elect representatives of their choice.

The maps divide rural Nye County into three State Assembly districts and Pahrump – its largest city – into two. The lawsuit filed in Carson City court said combining Nye County voters in one district with more urban communities in the Las Vegas area dilutes their voting power and makes it unlikely that they will be able to choose an engaged representative. in their interests.

A representative from a remote county, they said in the lawsuit, “will have little understanding of the unique and local issues and problems of Pahrump and Nye County and, as such, will not be able to adequately represent the needs and interests of rural voters in Pahrump and Nye County. “

The trial, which was first reported by the Independent from Nevada, is the first to challenge the redistribution maps passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature earlier this month. He calls the cards “an intentionally extreme partisan gerrymander” and asks the court to prevent the secretary of state from using the new cards in future elections.

Legislative leaders did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit against Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske reiterates complaints from Republican lawmakers, including that the process was rushed, lacked transparency, and left few questions answered. He argues that the county division violated state laws and that the dilution of rural residents’ right to vote runs counter to the “one person, one vote” concept of federal voting rights law.

Cegavske’s office did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

Democrats drew maps less aligned with county boundaries than previous districts to ensure districts of equal population size and to keep tribal areas divided between counties into single districts. Although the cards divide Pahrump, legislative leaders have lauded efforts to keep cities united in unique districts, including Henderson and North Las Vegas.

The lawsuit also cites the Nevada Voters Bill of Rights, which was passed. as question 4 in last year’s election. The ballot question, which the Democrats have advocated submitting to voters, enshrines in the state constitution the right to equal access to the electoral system.

Hafen plans to run for office in her Assembly District and will be challenged by No Mask Nevada PAC co-founder Melissa Blundo.

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Metz is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.


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