Redistricting Board Approves Plan, Backup

Thursday, April 05 2012

The Alaska Redistricting Board adopted two new maps of the state’s legislative districts on Thursday, but so far it’s unclear which will actually be used for the upcoming elections.

The Amended Proclamation Plan is a major overhaul of the Board’s original map, which the Alaska Supreme Court said last month had unduly disregarded the requirements of the state’s Constitution. The Interim Plan is virtually the same as the original although with some minor tweaks to district boundaries in the Fairbanks area.

The Board’s executive director Taylor Bickford says, ideally, the amended plan will get the necessary approvals by the June 1 candidate filing deadline. If not though, it may be necessary to use the interim plan in November.

“The real issue is that the Board’s new plan hasn’t received pre-clearance from the federal Department of Justice. Yet.”

Under the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ has to make sure the plan doesn’t dilute Alaska Native voting strength. Bickford says while the Board is confident the plan doesn’t, it might take a while for the DOJ to come to the same conclusion.

“We’re just going to have to react to what the State court does and what the federal government does.”

The outcome of the process could have a big impact on the election in the Aleutians. In the interim plan, the Aleutians are split at Unimak Pass, with communities to the east in a House District with Bristol Bay and communities to the west paired with areas west of Bethel. The amended plan reunites the Aleutian Chain and pairs it with the Peninsula and areas south of Bethel.

Under either plan 59 out of the state’s 60 senators will need to stand for reelection this fall. 

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