This editorial first appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
It’s time for the Alaska Redistricting Board to present revised election districts to the public that follow the dictates of the Alaska Constitution.
The board’s reluctance to complete its task drew a strong rebuke Thursday from Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy, who called for revised plans and public hearings as soon as possible.
We agree with Judge McConahy and urge the board to produce revised plans and get them out for public comment. There is no question about the need for public review and the need to get as much work done as soon as possible so that a final plan will be ready for the 2014 elections.
The judge said the board has discussed having a proposed plan by August but that does not leave enough time to “promulgate a plan, have hearings and seek judicial review.”
“There is no reason to delay this process any further,” he said.
In February 2012, McConahy ruled that the board needed to redraw its plan to follow the Alaska Constitution. Last December, the Alaska Supreme Court ordered the drafting of a new plan.
The board has not done so, contending that it would be wise to wait and see what the U.S. Supreme Court rules in an Alabama case on the Voting Rights Act.
As the Fairbanks judge makes clear, it is a straightforward matter to create a constitutional plan for Alaska, and no ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is needed to decide on a course of action.
“Suggestions to the contrary are dilatory and, at the most generous, disingenuous,” he wrote.
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.”
Judge McConahy recommended that the Alaska Supreme Court give the board 10 days to revise plans and post them on its website and set deadlines for holding public hearings and receiving any other proposed plans from the public.
It should be a priority for the board needs to adopt a greater sense of urgency and finish its work.