Las Vegas Sun

August 20, 2019

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League of Women Voters recommends panelists to draw political boundaries

CARSON CITY — The League of Women Voters of the Las Vegas Valley has suggested four people to serve as panelists to draw new boundaries for the four Nevada seats in Congress and for the districts in the Legislature.

The league submitted its legal document Wednesday to Carson District Judge Todd Russell, who is presiding over a lawsuit between Republicans and Democrats on reapportionment.

Denise Pifer, a lawyer representing the league, said the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed a 10 percent population deviation between the smallest and largest districts in the state Senate and Assembly.

In drawing the lines for Congress, “do not try to get the population difference between your largest and smallest congressional district down to one person,” Pifer said.

She also said a 2009 Supreme Court decision “makes it very difficult for unhappy people to successfully sue a state because they are dissatisfied with the new boundary lines.”

The league was the first group to submit recommendations to Russell. The Democratic and Republican parties will follow.

Russell has suggested a panel be created to draw the lines and asked for suggestions from the various groups.

The league has recommended a former CIA official, two retired educators and a woman who worked in the auto industry.

They are:

• Larry Badgley, a former top-level management officer for the Central Intelligence Agency. Prior to that, he was a program manager with the Army.

• Debra (Sam) King worked for the Clark County School District for 32 years and was administrator for the adult education high school diploma program. She is a former president of the league.

• Dick Collins taught electronics at Green Haven Correctional Facility in New York for 30 years. He also taught staff at the facility before moving to Las Vegas in 2005.

• Kathleen Bienenstein worked for more than 25 years in the automotive industry. Before moving to Nevada, she was elected to a two-year, part-time term as Township Clerk in Sugar Island Township in Michigan.

In its recommendation, the league said the political districts should be as compact as possible. For the four congressional districts, there should be “clean, straight, main-road boundary lines whenever possible.”

The Legislature, on party line votes, passed two Democratic backed reapportionment bills. But they were vetoed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who said they did not comply with the federal voting rights act and were not fair to Hispanics.

The Legislature failed to pass a reapportionment bill acceptable to all and the issue ended up with the courts to make a decision.

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