July 12, 2011

Court orders special redistricting panel

Ninth District Court Judge James Todd Russell ruled that he will select a "panel of masters" to draw Nevada's new state and Congressional districts.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Russell plans on appointing the voter registrars from Clark and Washoe counties and Carson City to the panel, as well as a demographic and software expert from the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

"I don't want anybody with political agendas," Russell said during the hearing.

Russell's panel sounds similar to the independent panels used in states such as Arizona and California for redistricting, and, since Nevada's politically divided Legislature was the reason maps weren't passed during the Session, it sounds nice for Russell to attempt to remove the politics from redistricting.

However, Russell didn't weigh in on another crucial aspect of the redistricting battle: the interpretation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which both political parties have accused each other of violating in their respective maps.

Russell gave both parties until July 20th to create lists of suggested "panel masters" and other "legal issues" that must be decided.

While removing the politics from redistricting sounds like a good outcome, Russell's silence on the VRA and his postponement of other "legal issues" sounds more like he's kicking the can down the road.

Keep checking in with Transparent Nevada and Nevada Journal, because there is still plenty to be written in this story.