By SAM METZ, AP / Report for America
Residents of a Republican-leaning rural town that the Nevada legislature divided into two assembly districts have filed a lawsuit challenging the state district maps.
John Koenig and Gregory Hafen II, a Republican who represents Pahrump in the Statehouse, argued that the maps passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature 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. “
Neither legislative leaders nor Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske – who is named in the lawsuit – immediately responded to requests for comment on Friday.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Nov. 17 and first reported by the Nevada Independent, 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.
The lawsuit reiterates complaints from Republican lawmakers, including that the process was rushed, lacked transparency and allowed few questions to be answered. He argues that the county division violated state laws and the dilution of the voting power of rural residents runs counter to the “one person, one vote” concept of federal voting rights law.
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 maps divide Pahrump, legislative leaders have lauded efforts to keep cities united in single districts, including Henderson and North Las Vegas.
The lawsuit also cites the Nevada Voters Bill of Rights, which 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.
As political maps are redrawn across the country to account for population growth and movements, the decisions have also sparked lawsuits in states such as Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan. , Ohio, Oregon and Texas.
Hafen, the plaintiff in the Nevada lawsuit, is considering running for reelection in her assembly district and will be challenged by No Mask Nevada PAC co-founder, Melissa Blundo.
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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