The Alaska Redistricting Board, after well over a year, has failed to adopt either a map or a process that conforms to the requirements of the Alaska Constitution. The Alaska Constitution requires that House and Senate district boundaries in Alaska be drawn so that Alaskans are fairly represented across the State. This means that districts must as compact and contiguous as possible and that people within a district, to the extent possible, be united by common socio-economic interests. Boroughs should not be split, unless their population within a specific borough is so large, that splitting is necessary, and then split only to the minimum amount necessary.
The courts have continued to remand the illegal plans of the Redistricting Board back to the Redistricting Board until the Board has decided it is easier to run down the clock before the upcoming elections, instead of drawing a legal plan of their own or considering other legal plans that have been presented to them, in the hopes that they will be allowed a fallback position of adopting one of their illegal plans that they is in their partisan best interests.
This process in not working well for Alaskans and should be changed. The courts should realize by now that the Redistricting Board is not making a good faith effort to draw a legal plan itself or to seriously consider legal plans presented by others--one that first conforms to the requirements of the Alaska Constitution and also complies with the federal Voting Rights Act.
One such legal plan, the RIGHTS Coalition Plan, has been presented to the Board and has broad public support across Alaska. The RIGHTS Coalition plan was drawn up according to requirements of the Alaska Constitution and also complies with the federal Voting Rights Act. It keeps Boroughs together to the maximum extent possible, provides for compact, contiguous districts, both house and senate, that have common socio-economic interests, provides Alaskans from all regions with fair representation, and complies with the federal Voting Right Act requirements as outlined by Voting Rights Act experts.
It’s time for the courts in Alaska to take the process back from the partisan Redistricting Board, which clearly has no intention, of drawing their own legal plan or seriously considering legal plans presented by others. It’s time to appoint a non-partisan Master to draw up a legal plan for Alaskans in a timely manner so that Alaskans can plan for their upcoming elections in a fair and constitutional manner.
• Menke lives in Haines.