Voter Disparity Sparks Redistricting Talk

Voter Turnout
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A new report shows wide variances in numbers of Democrats and Republicans registered in Nevada congressional and legislative districts, prompting a GOP leader to suggest district realignments well in advance of 2011 when they must be redrawn.

But a Democratic leader says reapportionment is based on population, not political registration, and the remapping can wait.

The secretary of state's office reported Wednesday that 902,803 Nevadans are now registered to vote. That includes 373,238 Republicans and 365,090 Democrats. The next largest party is the Independent American with 17,285, and all other parties total just 10,619. There are 136,571 nonpartisan voters.

Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, said Nevada should consider redoing its reapportionment maps in the next session rather than waiting until the 2011 session.

"It was done badly," he said. "It was done for political advantage and the result is you're leaving some people not well represented."

According to the secretary of state's report, the 1st Congressional District represented by Democrat Shelley Berkley has almost 100,000 fewer registered voters than the other two districts — 239,782 compared with 332,357 for Jon Porter and 330,564 for Jim Gibbons, both Republicans.

State Senate districts range from 18,749 registered in Democrat Maggie Carlton's Clark 2 to 70,321 in Republican Dennis Nolan's Clark 9.

The range is equally dramatic in the Assembly, where districts range in size from Democrat Bob McCleary's 7,970 voters in Dist. 11 to 45,910 in David Brown's Dist. 22 and 40,297 in Chad Christensen's Dist. 13. Brown and Christensen are Republicans.

Assembly Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, has fewer than 17,000 registered voters in his district of about 50,000 people. But Arberry said the populations of his, McCleary's and other "inner city" districts are much closer than the voter registration numbers and reapportionment is based on population.

Arberry rejected the idea of opening up reapportionment before 2011, saying, "There's always hindsight, but I don't feel we need go in and try fix it now because I have a low amount of registered voters."

Instead, he said there's a need for stepped-up voter registration efforts.