Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
The state’s Redistricting Board began its work today (Wednesday) after receiving the new census figures. The Redistricting Board has thirty days to draft initial plans for new political boundaries, and sixty days to finalize the plan.
This (Wednesday) morning, the Board heard public comments from a variety of people, including Randy Reudrich, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.
Reudrich is asking the board to consider assigning Alaska prisoners to their home addresses, instead of their prison addresses, in building new legislative districts. Reudrich says the move could allow greater population figures for rural districts, reducing the need to expand those districts and reducing the risk of creating districts with a voting majority.
Redistricting board chair John Torgerson, said the item, as well as another question regarding the military population in Alaska, are among the intricate legal issues the board will be discussing.
Five state house districts lost seventeen percent of their population between 2002 and last year. Conversely, the state’s population has grown by more than 83 thousand people since 2000…about one third of that growth is in the Matanuska Susitna Borough City clerks from Wasilla, Palmer and Valdez spoke up before the Board, too. Cristy Spenders, representing the Alaska Association of Municipal Clerks, said it is the clerks job to see that all registered city voters get ballots, and redistricting could result in changes in voting precincts.
Torgerson responded that the state division of elections draws up voting precinct boundaries, not the Redistricting Board, although the Board will take clerks concerns into consideration. Most comments at the session were more general in nature.
The new census numbers will be used to determine the boundaries of state legislative districts for the coming decade. Wednesday’s Redistricting Board session is expected to establish a public hearing process. Information on the board’s work can be found at www.akredistricting.org.