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OPINION: Democrat-proposed redistricting plan may violate the Voting Rights Act

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by Kyle Gillis – Nevada Policy Research Institute

While Democrats have criticized Republican redistricting maps for “packed” districts and for making the Hispanic vote “negligible,” a closer examination of the plans shows the Republican maps would give Hispanics more power than do Democrat-proposed maps.

Although Nevada’s Hispanic population grew by 80 percent over the last decade and Hispanics account for a quarter of Nevada’s total population, less than one in 20 assembly and senate districts drawn by the Democrats contain Hispanic majorities.

Currently, two assembly districts and two state-senate districts have voting-age populations that are majority Hispanic. The Democrat-proposed maps maintain the number of Hispanic-majority assembly districts at two and reduce the number of Hispanic-majority senate districts to one (although another district’s voting-age population is 49.9 percent Hispanic). Twelve assembly district and six senate districts under the Democrats’ plan have Hispanic voting-age populations greater than 25 percent.

Republican-proposed maps, on the other hand, create nine Hispanic voting-age majority assembly seats and three such senate seats. The Republican plan would establish 14 assembly districts and six senate districts where Hispanic voting-age populations exceed 25 percent.

The number of Hispanic-majority seats in Nevada’s legislature is an issue because of Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). …

Under Section 2 of the VRA, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that discrimination can occur in redistricting if the districts are drawn in such a way that they dilute the power of the collective vote of a racial minority (Thornburg v. Gingles, 1986).

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