Redistricting initiative at a standstill because of failure to collect enough signatures
A proposed amendment establishing an independent redistricting commission most likely will not be on the ballot in November as the group backing it has failed to gather enough signatures, with only about 12 percent of the required signatures collected a week ahead of the Aug. 5 deadline.
Fair Maps Nevada has reported gathering approximately 12,000 signatures as of Tuesday. The initiative would require 97,598 signatures by the deadline in order to appear on the ballot in the general election, and while the initiative won’t make it through before next summer’s expected redistricting session takes place, organizers say they don’t consider this the end.
“We see this as a pause,” said Sondra Cosgrove, president of the League of Women Voters of Nevada. “That, you know, we weren't able to get this iteration in, but we’re immediately going to be recontacting our supporters and the people who signed our petition this time to put together a database… and then in October or maybe November of next year just refile the amendment and start again.”
The group plans to use its database of supporters from this cycle’s petition for an outreach effort next year, including putting together and training an observer group to watch and analyze redistricting by the Legislature next year.
The Review-Journal first reported the group’s failure to gather signatures on Tuesday.
The signature deadline had already been extended for the group, which filed a lawsuit in June stating that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown had prevented them from being able to collect signatures. A federal judge granted the extension, changing the deadline from June 24 to Aug. 5 in response to these “unique factual circumstances.”
Cosgrove believes that the extension was beneficial for the group, even if it was not enough to allow them to meet the signature requirement.
“It gave us more time to talk about our agenda to do virtual meetings with people,” she said.
The proposed amendment would create an independent commission tasked with redrawing districts in the state following each federal census, a task currently performed by the Legislature. The current version of the initiative differs from the original text, which was opposed by Democrats including Gov. Steve Sisolak, and attracted a lawsuit, with critics concerned there was no wording preventing the commission from having a heavy partisan-influence. The rewritten text requires three of the commission’s seven members to have no party affiliation.
Cosgrove believes the lawsuit “put a shadow” over the group’s efforts which it found difficult to recover from in time to effectively organize and campaign.
A second constitutional initiative was proposed this year by the Fountainhead Society, which would shorten state Senate terms to two years and realign districts with the state’s congressional districts. In order for either proposed amendment to pass, it must be approved by voters in two consecutive general elections.