Gov. Sandoval vetoes Democrats’ redistricting maps

Sat, May 14, 2011 (1:48 p.m.)

Gov. Brian Sandoval today vetoed Democrats’ redistricting maps, accusing the party of violating the Voting Rights Act and drawing districts for political gain rather than equitable representation.

In a pair of party-line votes last week, the Legislature passed the first redistricting bill that redrew Nevada’s legislative and congressional districts according to new Census data. Anticipating the veto, Democrats have already started working on new maps.

In his veto message, Sandoval cites the fact none of the four congressional districts in the Democrats’ plan are made up of a majority of Hispanic voters.

“With Hispanics accounting for 46 percent of the total population growth in our state over the last 10 years, this transparent effort to avoid creating even one additional district where this community would be likely to elect its candidate of choice is simply not acceptable,” Sandoval wrote.

Hispanic activists have argued the Republican version of the maps pack Hispanic voters into a few districts, diluting their strength in the rest of the state. Democrats, they argued, created many districts with Hispanic strength.

Sandoval also accused Democrats of gerrymandering for political gain.

“At its core, this bill creates districts that were drawn exclusively for political gain,” he wrote. “This plan ensures partisan opportunity rather than the fair representation of all Nevadans. Partisan gerrymandering is not legal, equitable, or acceptable.”

Democrats drew three of four congressional districts with a Democratic majority, arguing the population and voter registration supports the split. Republicans are demanding an even split, two districts for the GOP and two for the Democrats.

Democratic leaders immediately fired back at Sandoval.

“How can the governor have the audacity to say he wants a ‘fair’ plan, when his own words and actions show an unambiguous motivation to promote the interests of his own party,” Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, said.

Democrats also complained that neither the governor nor his staff testified at the public hearings on the maps.

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