With Seven Maps, Many Options Before Redistricting Board

BoardDraftPlanAMapIn the coming weeks, the Alaska redistricting board will be reviewing seven different political maps, on top of a handful that have been submitted by third-party groups.

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The maps have been released over the past two days, and today the board unanimously agreed to consider all of them. Outside organizations that submitted maps include the Calista Corporation; Alaskans For Fair and Equitable Redistricting, a group that had been established by a former chair of the Alaska Republican Party; Gazewood & Weiner, a Fairbanks lawfirm that sued the redistricting board; and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

There aren’t many common themes in the maps. At the board meeting, Chair John Torgerson noted the board had many choices in how much they wanted to change the political boundaries.

“There are some strikingly similar districts, and then there are some that are totally different. Totally, uh, many options that are convened in all those.”

Alaska had to use an interim map last election, and the redistricting board only started working on new boundaries two weeks ago. They had been waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on a Voting Rights Act case, which would have affected the way lines are drawn. But that decision still hasn’t come out, and earlier this month a judge in Fairbanks criticized the board for delaying the process and ordered them to begin work immediately.

Zack Fields is the communications director with the Alaska Democratic Party, and he hinks that even though the board has now offered a set of maps, they’re still holding up the process.

“The redistricting board appears to be stalling, and by in theory considering many, many plans, the redistricting board has given itself maximum flexibility to change district lines later. And the problem is citizens are left in limbo wondering who are my representatives going to be.”

The first public meeting on the maps will be in Anchorage on June 28. In early July, the board will also hold meetings in Fairbanks and Juneau. Some of the most controversial districts used in the interim map were in those regions.

You can examine the proposed maps here.