Alaska Supreme Court set to consider redistricting

JUNEAU — The Alaska Supreme Court is preparing to consider arguments over a plan to change the state’s legislative boundaries in a case that will affect upcoming elections.

Attorneys for two Fairbanks-area residents challenging Alaska’s redistricting plan say the court should allow this year’s elections to be conducted under the existing configuration, rather than one they deem unconstitutional.

The court must weigh that against a request from the Alaska Redistricting Board, which has asked the court to allow this year’s elections to be conducted under a plan that sparked a legal fight last year.

The court did not rule on the merits of that plan but sent it back to the board for further work earlier this year.

The board’s second attempt was recently rejected by Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy, who said it didn’t comply with the state Supreme Court’s order and that the board didn’t redraw southeast Alaska based on state constitutional requirements.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court is expected to hear the board’s appeal of McConahy’s decision, as well as its request to use the first plan, with slight modifications, for 2012 elections.

Attorneys for plaintiffs George Riley and Ron Dearborn, said in a court filing Tuesday that “adoption of an unconstitutional plan or a plan whose constitutionality cannot be determined because of a flawed process is not necessary to satisfy the constitution’s decennial redistricting requirement.”

The plaintiffs say the 2012 elections should proceed using the existing redistricting plan — the plan implemented after the 2000 U.S. Census. Another option, they say, is moving the election dates and appointing masters to craft a valid plan, though they say it’s unlikely there’s adequate time to use masters.

The state Division of Elections has said it needs a valid plan in place by Monday to meet its obligations. The candidate filing deadline is June 1.

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