Judge orders board to redraw 4 districts
JUNEAU (AP) — The Alaska Redistricting Board must redraw three Fairbanks-area House districts and another in the Aleutian chain, a state court judge ruled Friday.
Judge Michael P. McConahy, in a lengthy ruling, determined that House Districts 1, 2, 37 and 38 are not in harmony with the state Constitution. House Districts 1, 2 and 38 are in the Fairbanks area, with 1 and 2 urban districts and 38 parts urban and rural. House District 37 splits the Aleutian chain.
The redistricting board has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to discuss the decision and whether to appeal, executive director Taylor Bickford said.
The state's newly drawn political boundaries, based on results of the 2010 Census, were challenged by Fairbanks-area residents who alleged the redistricting plan violates Alaska constitutional standards for compact and socio-economically integrated districts.
The board had said its greatest challenge in developing a plan was ensuring that the voice of Alaska Natives was protected in the political process.
Under the federal voting rights law, Alaska's redistricting plan cannot weaken the Alaska Native community's ability to elect candidates of their choosing. The board needed at least nine districts in which a Native or Native-backed candidate was likely to be elected to maintain the seats held by those candidates after the 2000 redistricting.
The plan received preclearance from the U.S. Justice Department in October.
McConahy, in his decision, noted: “The devil is always in the details.”