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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

SB 103 We Have a Bill

Senator Settelmeyer's top-two primary bill just had its first reading on the floor of the Nevada Senate. The bill is SB 103. You can read it here.

https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/79th2017/BDR/BDR79_24-0521.pdf

Thursday, February 2, 2017

As Session Sets to Open Major Parties Still Losing Voter Share

The 2017 session of the Nevada Legislature begins in four days and the Voter registration numbers for January, 2017 show no change in the trend. Both major political parties continue to lose voter share while Non-Partisan and total voters not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican Party grow. According to the secretary of state’s office, some counties performed routine list maintenance. However, the trend still was across all demographics; state-wide, Clark County, Washoe County, rural counties, among those 18 – 34 years of age and those above 55.

State-Wide
Party
Change in # Voters
% Change
% Voter Share
Difference in Voter Share %
D
-340
-0.06
39.55
0.00
R
-569
-0.11
33.09
-0.02
NP
76
0.02
20.89
0.01
Other
-41
-0.05
6.46
0.00
Total not D or R


27.35
0.01
Other includes IAP, Lib, and 5 parties without ballot access.
Change is # voters: IAP -0.03%; Lib +0.11%; other 5 parties -0.26%

Clark County
Party
Change in # Voters
% Change
% Voter Share
Difference in Voter Share %
D
77
0.02
43.23
0.00
R
-124
-0.04
28.86
-0.02
NP
220
0.10
21.81
0.02
Other
33
0.05
6.10
0.01
Total not D or R


27.91
0.03
Other includes IAP, Lib, and 5 parties without ballot access.
Change is # voters: IAP +0.09%; Lib +0.25%; other 5 parties -0.22%

Washoe County
Party
Change in # Voters
% Change
% Voter Share
Difference in Voter Share %
D
-314
-0.33
35.82
-0.01
R
-291
-0.29
37.09
0.00
NP
-126
-0.24
19.86
0.02
Other
-56
-0.19
7.24
0.00
Total not D or R


27.10
0.02
Other includes IAP, Lib, and 5 parties without ballot access.
Change is # voters: IAP -0.34%; Lib -0.09%; other 5 parties -0.28%

 Rural Counties
Party
Change in # Voters
% Change
% Voter Share
Difference in Voter Share %
D
-103
-0.23
24.30
-0.01
R
-154
-0.16
51.04
0.00
NP
-18
-0.06
17.25
0.02
Other
-26
-0.19
7.41
0.00
Total not D or R


24.66
0.02
Other includes IAP, Lib, and 5 parties without ballot access.
Change is # voters: IAP -0.14%; Lib -0.21%; other 5 parties -0.64%

18 – 34 Year Old
Party
Change in # Voters
% Change
% Voter Share
Difference in Voter Share %
D
-533
-0.32
39.63
0.00
R
-386
-0.41
22.73
-0.01
NP
-338
-0.28
29.60
0.02
Other
-95
-0.28
8.05
0.01
Total not D or R


37.65
0.03
Other includes IAP, Lib, and 5 parties without ballot access.
Change is # voters: IAP -0.18%; Lib -0.24%; other 5 parties -0.57%

55+
Party
Change in # Voters
% Change
% Voter Share
Difference in Voter Share %
D
220
0.09
40.07
0.00
R
136
0.06
40.46
-0.02
NP
230
0.26
14.31
0.02
Other
39
0.12
5.17
0.01
Total not D or R


19.48
0.03
Other includes IAP, Lib, and 5 parties without ballot access.
Change is # voters: IAP +0.12%; Lib +0.23%; other 5 parties +0.05%

Major party loses also continue in congressional and legislative districts.

Congressional Districts
Party
# Districts Lose Voter Share
# Districts Gain Voter Share
# Districts No Change
Democratic
1
1
2
Republican
3
1
0
Non-Partisan
0
4
0
Other
0
1
3
Both CD 1 and CD 4continue to show the number of voters not affiliated with either major party is greater than or within 5% of the number of voters registered to one of the major parties.

State Senate Districts
Party
# Districts Lose Voter Share
# Districts Gain Voter Share
# Districts No Change
Democratic
8
6
7
Republican
17
2
2
Non-Partisan
0
17
4
Other
7
7
7
In 13 districts (61.9%) the number of voters registered as Non-Partisan or the total number not affiliated with either major party is greater than or within 5% of the number of voters registered to one of the major parties. This is unchanged from last month.

State Assembly Districts
Party
# Districts Lose Voter Share
# Districts Gain Voter Share
# Districts No Change
Democratic
23
18
1
Republican
30
7
5
Non-Partisan
6
28
8
Other
14
20
8
In 31 districts (73.81%) the number of voters registered as Non-Partisan or the total number not affiliated with either major party is greater than or within 5% of the number of voters registered to one of the major parties. This is unchanged from last month.

Bill language is pending on a bill draft request submitted by Senator James Settelymeyer (R-Minden) that will open up the primary election process to this continually growing segment of disenfranchised Nevada voters. The Nevada legislature can lead the nation by becoming the first legislative body to enact this important election reform. Voters in other states have lead election reform efforts. Isn’t it better if elected officials implement these changes?


Monday, January 23, 2017

Nevada Democratic Caucus Blueprint, Voting Rights, and NEMRA

UPDATE (February 18, 2017)

For the 2017 session, the Democratic Caucus changed the Blueprint. The following is in the introduction signed by both Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson; We also need to protect our heritage. That means preserving Nevada’s natural environment, protecting our constitutional rights, and making it easier for our citizens to participate in the democratic process.


“Though Democrats won’t release their full slate of legislative priorities until February, one issue both Ford and Frierson have already highlighted as critical in the upcoming session is expanding voting rights, especially amid fears that the Trump Administration won’t fight against initiatives that could disenfranchise minority groups.”

The above paragraph (bold highlight added) is from an article by Megan Messerly and Michelle Rindels, Ford and Frierson: Will the Legislature's new leaders be complements or competitors?” published by The Nevada Independent on January 21, 2017.

During the 2015 session of the Nevada legislature, the Democratic caucus published the “Nevada Blueprint”. This document outlines the principles and legislative goals of the caucus.

From that document (bold highlight added)

PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS

Our Nevada Blueprint Will:
  • Fight to ensure that voting is free, fair, and accessible for all eligible voters in Nevada.
  • Protect every Nevadan’s right to his or her day in court.
  • Encourage voter participation by providing for same-day voter registration, implementing Election Day vote centers, and automating the DMV’s voter registration system.

“..expanding voting rights” and “..accessible for all eligible voters..”. At the end of 2016, over 27 percent of registered voters in Nevada are not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican Party. Nearly 21 percent are registered as Non-Partisan. Month after month, both major political parties lose voter share while Non-Partisan and minor parties gain. This trend is across all demographics; Clark and Washoe Counties, the rural counties, those between the ages of 18 to 34 (percentage in this group are 10 percent higher than the state total), those over 55, and throughout all state senate and assembly districts.

For partisan elected offices, Nevada uses the closed primary system. Voters must be registered as either Democratic or Republican to help select the party’s candidates for the general election. Political parties are private organizations protected by the first amendment’s right of association. It is their right to conduct their internal operations and select their candidates as they see fit. This right has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, in Nevada, all taxpayers pay for primary elections. Democratic Party members are paying for the Republican Party primary and vice versa along with their own. Non-Partisans and members of minor political parties are paying for both parties’ primary elections. Taxpayers are paying for something they are blocked from participating in. Taxpayers funding internal operations of a political party may be unconstitutional.   

As voter registration statistics show, an increasing number of voters are showing their frustration by voluntarily giving up their right to participate in part of their voting franchise. Yes, this is a choice, but the choice is being driven by the system and current level of political divisiveness.

 “..expanding voting rights” and “..accessible for all eligible voters..”. Under the current system, voters’ rights are being curtailed and all elections are not accessible for all eligible voters. The Democratic caucus’ Blueprint places an emphasis on correcting these systemic flaws.

The Nevada Election Modernization and Reform Act (NEMRA) provides the means for the Democratic caucus to satisfy this goal of their agenda. State Senator James Settelmeyer (R-Minden) has filed a bill draft request (BDR).


Ensuring all voters are guaranteed the opportunity to participate in all elections is part of the Democratic caucus Nevada Blueprint. The caucus should work to pass Senator Settelmeyer’s bill. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Another Year and the Partisan Divide Keeps Growing

As we start a new year and a new presidency, Pew Research once again takes a look at the partisan division in this country. The January, 2017 poll does not bode well. I last posted about this last January.

 

With the inauguration of President Trump just completed and what may have been the most negative campaign cycle in recent memory behind us, optimism leads to the thought that perhaps the partisan divide could narrow. If the Pew report is any indication, the reverse is more likely.

 

Going into 2017, 86 percent of those polled say the country is more politically divided. Pew Research has been tracking the partisan divide since 2004 and this is the highest result ever recorded. Even more ominous is the fact that 71 percent think this division will either remain the same or get worse (40 percent remain the same, 31 percent get worse).

 

What about the chances lawmakers will come together and reach agreement? Republicans are more optimistic with 50 percent believing they will not work with the other party. Conversely, among Democratic Party members, 72 percent say that animosity and refusal to come together will continue.

 

For government at all levels to function, this environment cannot exist. Respectful disagreement and discussion of the issues is paramount if collaboration and cooperation are to flourish. Only then will issues be positively addressed.

 

The Nevada legislature has the opportunity to become the first state legislature to implement a process that could lead to lessening the partisan divide. Normally changes that are required are the result of voter initiatives. A bill draft request (BDR) has been submitted by Senator James Settelmeyer (R-Minden) that would put in place a system that has shown to focus campaigns and the act of legislating on the issues rather than on the next election. (Talk of who will run in 2018 and 2020 are already filling the media) The system contained in this BDR forces candidates and elected officials to focus on all voters rather than just their political party’s so-called base. It addresses head on the voter registration dynamics that show the major political parties losing voter share while registrations as Non-Partisan and to minor political parties increase.

 


The Nevada legislature convenes in two weeks, February 6, 2017. Let Nevada take the lead in taking the first step to narrow the partisan divide so that future polls show a different result.