Redistricting Plan Headed Back to Court

Thursday morning, Alaska’s Supreme Court will hear arguments on which voting district map will be used for this year’s elections. Earlier this month, the state Redistricting Board filed a petition with the high court, asking that the Board’s April 5 proclamation plan be used, after a lower court judge had rejected the Board’s second attempt at a redistricting plan. The Supreme Court had issued a May 8 deadline for responses to both the Board’s request for review of the lower court decision and it’s petition to use it’s initial redistricting plan in this year’s election.

Taylor Bickford chairs the state redistricting board. Bickford says there are two parts to the arguments. One is an appeal the Board is making to the Supreme Court in response to the state Superior Court’s decision that the board did not follow Alaska Constitutional guidelines in drawing up the state voting map

“And so we are hoping that first of all, the Supreme Court reverses the Superior Court decision and approves the Board’s amended plan as adopted on April 5.”

A state redistricting plan must be in place by May 14, according to the Division of Elections. But time is running out, and Bickford says that the second part of the Board’s appeal asks the high court justices to decide which of the redistricting plans to use this year

“And we’re hoping that the court will just settle the issue and take the interim plan that we adopted on April 5 and implement that as the plan for the 2012 elections and so, given the Supreme Court’s decision to move oral arguments back to the [May] tenth, we’re hoping they will have a decision out by May 14 to satisfy that division of elections requirement. “

Arguments are set to start at ten am Thursday. Bickford says the board is confident the issue will be sorted out in time.

If the court approves an interim plan to be used this year, and then approves a different version of the plan to be used beyond that, the majority of Alaskan voters will not be affected, Bickford says

“The interim plan and the Board’s amended proclamation plan are over 98 percent the same. The amount of Alaskans that would have to switch districts between the interim plan and the amended plan is less than 2 percent of the state’s population. “

The Board’s April 5 redistricing plan has been approved by the federal department of justice.

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