Both Sides Appealing Redistricting Ruling

Both sides are appealing a Superior Court Judge’s ruling in the Alaska redistricting suit.  A mixed decision issued last week by Judge Michael McConahy remanded four districts proposed by the Alaska Redistricting Board back for re-working.  That includes House Districts 37 and 38, which incorporate western Alaska and interior communities in an attempt to protect the strength of the Alaska Native vote, as required by the federal Voting Rights Act.  The Alaska Redistricting Board voted today to seek review of Judge McConahy’s ruling that the sprawling districts should be re-worked to better comply with state and federal law.   Redistricting Board Executive Director Taylor Bickford says appeals are part of the redistricting.

The redistricting maps are drawn with public input by an appointed board.  Allegations of partisan manipulation are standard, but Judge McConahy rejected gerrymandering claims in his decision. Plaintiffs disagree.  Attorney Mike Walleri, who represents two Fairbanks-area voters who sued to block the plan, says their appeal is based on concerns about fair representation for Fairbanks.  Walleri says the proposed plan protects local Republican legislative incumbents, while pitting two Fairbanks Democrats against one another in a new District.

Walleri says his clients are getting financial and in kind legal assistance in the case from the Fairbanks North Star Borough.  The Alaska Supreme Court has blocked out time in mid March to hear the appeals in the redistricting case.  A finalized map of voter districts has to be ready for the June first candidate filing deadline.

Correction: We mistakenly said that the redistricting maps are drawn with public input by a Governor-appointed board. As stated on the board website: The governor shall appoint two members of the board. The presiding officer of the senate, the presiding officer of the house of representatives, and the chief justice of the supreme court shall each appoint one member of the board.

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