Alaska judge orders board adopt interim redistricting map

People look at maps hanging on a wall.
Juneau residents study map proposals by the Alaska Redistricting Board at an open house event on Sept. 27, 2021. (Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)

A state court judge has said a majority of members on the board tasked with redrawing Alaska’s political boundaries appeared to have adopted a map that splits the Eagle River area into two Senate districts for “political reasons,” and he ordered a new map be used this year.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Matthews in a decision released late Monday ordered the board to adopt on an interim basis a map that pairs the Eagle River area House districts into a Senate district. The decision comes in a second round of redistricting challenges. The candidate filing deadline for the August primary is June 1.

Matthews said he expected a quick review of his decision by the Alaska Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court in March found constitutional issues with elements of a map drawn by the Alaska Redistricting Board last fall. In one of the instances, the court ruled a state Senate district pairing part of east Anchorage and the Eagle River area constituted an “unconstitutional political gerrymander.”

The plan adopted by the board 3-2 in response to the court spurred the latest challenges, which focus on the board’s decision to link part of the Eagle River area with South Anchorage and Girdwood for a Senate district and another part of the Eagle River area to an area that includes a military base for another Senate district.

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