Following a sharp rebuke from a superior court judge, the Alaska Redistricting Board has decided to start redrawing the state’s political boundaries. The process has been going on for almost three years, and the lines can have a serious impact over who ends up in the legislature. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports.
The goal is to have a new electoral map by June 21. The board’s original plan had been to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether Alaska must comply with federal requirements to protect the influence of the Native vote before the board started drawing their lines. But last week, Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy described the strategy of using federal requirements as a starting point as “dilatory.” He ordered the board to immediately start work on a map that complies with the Alaska State Constitution first — an approach that’s known as the “Hickel Plan.”
While the redistricting board agreed to start the mapping process, they also moved to draft an appeal to the court order at their Friday meeting. They also bristled at criticisms that board isn’t doing its job well, and that it’s behaving in a partisan fashion to benefit the board’s Republican majority. Board attorney Michael White emphasized that the court hadn’t found any evidence of gerrymandering.
WHITE: So it ruled over and over and over again that there was no such thing and that issue is dead, and is not an issue at all in the courts.
The board also responded to the court’s order that they hold public meetings on their plans, saying that they always planned on that. While their schedule is subject to change, the first of those should be in Anchorage on June 28, followed by meetings in Fairbanks and Juneau in July.