Redistricting Board close to final plan

Natalie Landreth, senior staff attorney for Native American Rights Fund and outside counsel for Bristol Bay Native Corporation speaks at the Alaska Redistricting Board public hearing last week at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office.

FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Redistricting Board has adopted a new map that appears to resolve the major problems raised in a lawsuit over an earlier map.

But Michael Walleri, an attorney for the Fairbanks-area residents who brought that lawsuit, said the plaintiffs need to do a full analysis before deciding what to do, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Walleri said he’s glad to see Ester and Goldstream, drawn into a rural district reaching the Bering Sea, reunited with the Fairbanks North Star Borough under the new map. The city of Fairbanks also has its own Senate district under the plan. The city had been split under an earlier map but united in the map used for last year’s elections.

“Those are the two biggest issues that we raised, and it looks like those have been addressed,” he said. But he said “the devil is in the details.”

The board plans to meet Sunday to consider final adoption of the map. The plan then would be submitted to the court for approval. Additional challenges could be filed, but board attorney Michael White believes the latest plan meets constitutional muster.

It’s the best plan for Alaska voters, he said.

“Absent any extraordinary event, the plan you’re looking at will be the final plan,” White said.

The Alaska Supreme Court ordered the board to redraw the map for the 2014 elections after allowing an interim map to be used last year.

Alaska had been among the states required to get federal approval for its redistricting plans, and board members, in the past, had said they tried to balance state constitutional concerns with federal requirements under the Voting Rights Act in drafting plans. But the U.S. Supreme Court recently found unconstitutional a provision of the federal Voting Rights Act that determines which states must get Justice Department approval. It effectively did away with the mandate until Congress comes up with a new formula.

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