This editorial first appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
The Alaska Redistricting Board should not be taking a “wait and see” approach to redrawing election districts.
That is, don’t wait to see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules this summer in an Alabama case on the Voting Rights Act before correcting the problems identified by the Alaska Supreme Court with Alaska’s election districts.
The five-member board should keep first things first.
The Alaska Supreme Court has given the five-member board clear instructions — redraw the 40 election districts to meet the requirements of the Alaska Constitution.
Once that is done, then consider how the federal rules come into play. Regardless of what the federal court decides, the state rules have to be dealt with first.
The procedural and court battles over redistricting in Alaska are likely to continue after this summer, but the board should get to work now to increase the chances that a solid plan will be in place by the 2014 elections.
We disagree with Chairman John Torgerson, who said in April that the board would not resume its work until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules.
The flaw in that approach is that the plan prepared by the board failed to meet the requirements of the Alaska Constitution, which are not related to the issues at stake in the federal case.
The board should heed the words of the Alaska Supreme Court: “The first step in the redistricting process is to construct districts that comply with the requirements of the Alaska Constitution.”