Now that the 2020 U.S. Census results have been released, it’s time for redistricting—the process of redrawing the lines of districts from which public officials are elected based on population changes over the past decade.
Redistricting is intended to ensure that district boundaries accurately reflect not only changes in population but also racial diversity. It’s used by legislators to allocate equal representation in Congress, state legislatures and local governments.
In the 10 years since the last census, Washoe County’s population has grown by about 65,000 people–nearly 12%.
According to an Aug. 12 report released by the Census Bureau, almost 80% of U.S metro areas grew between 2010 and 2020, and Nevada was the state with the fifth fastest rate of growth, following Utah, Idaho,Texas and North Dakota.
When redistricting is done in Nevada, it’s required by law that each district within a voting area contains as close to the same population as possible.
According to a release from county spokesperson Bethany Drysdale, that’s already the case in Washoe County. However, Drysdale said, population growth and housing development in specific areas of the county has changed the way in which residents are spread out between its rural and urban areas, so redrawing the lines to better balance the spread will also be considered.
The county is seeking public input on the redistricting process. Its potential redistricting plans can be accessed online here. Those without computers can view the maps and provide their feedback through a hardcopy survey at the County Complex on Ninth Street and Wells Avenue, Building A. Public input is being accepted until Oct. 15.
The City of Reno is also seeking input on redistricting. That can be accessed here.
The school district is preparing to complete redistricting, too. Public comment on redistricting will be heard by the board on Oct. 12 and 26, when final boundary maps will be considered for adoption by the board. The Washoe County Registrar of Voters has requested the school district submit its final maps by Nov. 1.
The Nevada State Legislature will be called into a special session to address redistricting of state and federal districts, including district lines for state assembly and senate seats, Nevada’s delegation to the House of Representatives and the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents. The first meeting of the Committee to Conduct an Investigation into Matters Relating to Reapportionment and Redistricting in Nevada was held on Oct. 7.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.