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Board adopts new redistricting map

Posted: July 15, 2013 - 3:56pm
Marcia Davis, right, and Tom Begich deliver a presentation on behalf of Calista Corporation to the Alaska Redistricting Board Friday, June 28 at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office in Anchorage.  Erik Hill | The Anchorage Daily News
Erik Hill | The Anchorage Daily News
Marcia Davis, right, and Tom Begich deliver a presentation on behalf of Calista Corporation to the Alaska Redistricting Board Friday, June 28 at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office in Anchorage.

JUNEAU — Alaska’s newly redrawn political map will be submitted to a judge for further review.

The Alaska Redistricting Board on Sunday approved a new map, which makes some notable changes from the version used for last year’s elections. The Alaska Supreme Court allowed for an interim map to be used for the 2012 races but ordered the map be redrawn for next year’s elections after determining the board hadn’t followed the process it was ordered to in carving up the state’s political districts the first time.

The existing map — the one used for last year’s elections — took excess population from the Fairbanks area to create a district that extended to the Bering Sea. The map adopted Sunday instead creates a district that the board says is similar to maps prior to 2012, other than the addition of the excess population from the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The newly adopted map also makes changes in Southeast Alaska, removing Petersburg from the Senate district that includes Juneau.

The prior pairing had raised concerns for Petersburg, but borough manager Steve Giesbrecht said Monday he doesn’t expect the assembly to have any objections to the new configuration.

Jason Gazewood, an attorney for the Fairbanks-area residents who sued over the board’s original plan, said the plaintiffs still have some misgivings with the plan but are still reviewing it.

The new configurations would put incumbent Sens. Fred Dyson and Anna Fairclough, of Eagle River, and Reps. Doug Isaacson and Tammie Wilson, of North Pole, in the same districts, said Randy Ruedrich, a former state GOP chair who has closely followed the redistricting process. All four are Republicans.

This isn’t the board’s first stab at redrawing the map. The Alaska Supreme Court allowed for use of the interim map after finding problems with the new map the board came up with.

One of the challenges that board members said they’d faced in drafting prior iterations was balancing state constitutional requirements with those of the federal Voting Rights Act. But the board was essentially freed of a requirement that they have the Justice Department sign off on whatever map they come up with by a U.S. Supreme Court decision last month. The court found unconstitutional a provision of the federal act that determines which states must get Justice Department approval for election changes. That effectively did away with the mandate, until Congress comes up with a new formula.

Board attorney Michael White said the board believes it has devised a map that meets state constitutional requirements.

He said the board has heard some grumbling from various parties that this isn’t exactly what they may have wanted “so that tells me we reached a good compromise.”

A spokesman for the state Democratic party said the Democrats were still reviewing the plan.

Ruedrich, with the group Alaskans For Fair and Equitable Redistricting, which submitted a map of its own for consideration, called the map the board camp up “fair and equitable.”

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