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Sec. of State wants state Supreme Court to rule on redistricting
by Joshua H. Silavent
Oct 04, 2011 | 754 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARSON CITY — Secretary of State Ross Miller filed a petition with the Nevada Supreme Court on Monday asking it to direct the First Judicial District Court, Department 1 to issue rulings on several legal points related to redistricting state legislative boundaries before the task of redrawing the voting maps actually begins.

According to language in the petition, Miller contends that the District Court is moving forward with redrawing the voting maps without having first decided the following matters:

• the correct population measure to use for determining whether the Voting Rights Act requires drawing majority-minority districts;

• the meaning of “representational fairness” and the extent to which the Special Masters can use it when drawing maps; and

• whether the creation of majority-minority districts are required by the Voting Rights Act.

At the heart of the matter is whether a Hispanic-majority district ought to be created to reflect the growing population of that demographic.

According to 2010 U.S. census figures, Hispanics now make up more than a quarter of the state’s population.

Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed redistricting proposals submitted by Democrats this year because they did not include a Hispanic-majority district.

The Special Masters is a three-person panel appointed to “carry out the task of map-drawing,” the petition states.

The panel includes Alan Glover, clerk of Carson City, Thomas Sheets, a Las Vegas lawyer, and Bob Erickson, a former research analyst with the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

On Sept. 21, presiding Judge James Russell entered an order referring the aforementioned legal issues to the Special Masters, who would then hold public hearings on redistricting on Oct. 10 and 11.

This move prompted Miller’s challenge.

The “District Court has impermissibly abdicated its duty to make these rulings of law, which will cause the Special Masters to draw maps without any definitive direction on key legal issues,” the petition states. “This raises a substantial risk of delaying these proceedings since the maps will likely have to be redrawn after the District Court rules on these legal issues.”

Miller has said that such a delay could affect the 2012 general election cycle.

Judge Russell ordered the Special Masters to submit maps by Oct. 21 and a Nov. 16 hearing has been set to either accept the maps or require changes.

The task of redistricting was left to the courts after lawmakers in Carson City failed to act on it during the 2011 legislative session.

Miller has asked the state Supreme Court to rule on his petition by Oct. 12.
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