After being sent back to the drawing board by the Alaska Supreme Court last winter, the Alaska Redistricting Board released a new plan this week that did away with some creative groupings, especially for southeast Alaska. The board plans to vote on the plan on Sunday. Under the past plan, new lines were created for House Districts 36 and 37 of Southwest Alaska. House District 36, represented by Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham, stretched from the western coast of Cook Inlet, across the Illiamna Lake region to Bristol Bay, then north into the Yukon and Kuskokwim area. Edgmon no longer represented the Alaska Peninsula or the Aleutian, Shumagin, and Pribilof Islands communities — which were in House District 37.
Articles about voting issues in Alaska.
The Alaska Redistricting Board announced Friday it intends to begin work on redrawing the state’s voting districts, a week after a Fairbanks Superior Court judge chastised the agency for sitting idle despite a state Supreme Court order to start the process. The board plans to begin the process on Wednesday, the The Associated Press reports, and will shoot for producing a final plan by July 12. Every 10 years, Alaska’s voting lines are ordered redrawn according to the latest U.S. Census data. The redrawing of the state’s voting districts in 2012 sent state elections into a frenzy, with 59 of the 60 seats in the Alaska Legislature up for re-election, and allegations by Democrats that Republicans on the board had reconfigured the state’s voting districts to their advantage. Critics also complained that the new map disenfranchised Alaska Native voters living in rural Alaska.
Why has Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach taken such an active interest in Alaska’s elections? The Kansan, an adviser to Mitt Romney last year on immigration policies and a national figure in the Republican party’s conservative wing, testified before the Alaska Legislature in support of a voter photo ID bill. He also recommended that Alaska join the “Kansas Project,” a multi-state effort to look for duplicate voter registrations. Alaska Natives say a photo ID rule would be a roadblock to voting in the Bush. A decline in turnout there, with its traditionally heavy Democratic vote, could affect the 2014 reelection hopes of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat running in a Republican-leaning state. One of his potential rivals is Alaska’s top election official, Republican Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. Treadwell says he doesn’t support the voter ID bill, but Kobach says Treadwell was instrumental in getting him involved in promoting the Alaska legislation.
A Fairbanks judge gave a stern rebuke to the Alaska Redistricting Board, saying in a decision Thursday that it was not worthy of the trust placed in it by the courts and accusing it of acting in a “dilatory” and “disingenuous” manner. Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy, the judge hearing challenges to the failed redistricting plan under which the 2012 election was held, said the board’s proposal to wait until August to begin crafting a new plan was unsatisfactory. He said the board had the computer power to draw new boundaries in a matter of days should it choose. ”There is no reason to delay this process further,” he said.
As the Alaska Redistricting Board sits mostly idle despite a December 2012 state Supreme Court decision that ordered all 40 voting districts to be redrawn, a Fairbanks Superior Court judge Thursday offered up a verbal smackdown to the board, chastising the inaction and ordering public hearings related to the next redrawing process. ”Alaskans are no closer to having constitutional voting districts today” than they were in December, said Superior Court judge Michael McConahy. Every 10 years, Alaska’s voting lines are ordered to be redrawn according to the latest U.S. Census data. In Alaska, not only are there state requirements to be met, but any redistricting plan must also appease the federal Voting Rights Act. Alaska is among several states requiring Department of Justice confirmation that minority groups aren’t subject to discrimination by proposed voting changes.
It appears someone registered to vote in Alaska and another state cast ballots in both states during the November election, an Alaska elections official said Thursday. Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said the matter was sent to the criminal division of the Department of Law for review earlier this month. “At this point in time, it appears to be the same person,” Fenumiai told The Associated Press. “Signatures look the same. Other information matches. And I believe it’s the same person.” She declined to identify the other state.
The Alaska Redistricting Board will have to draw a map in line with the state constitution, but its final plan doesn’t necessarily have to be dramatically different from the one that ended up in court, the Alaska Supreme Court has affirmed.
The court issued an order on April 24 in response to questions posed by the board regarding the process it was expected to use in the latest court-mandated revision of the redistricting map. The order requires the board to first draw a map that complies with the Alaska Constitution before making changes to meet the federal Voting Rights Act that requires protection of Alaska Native voters. It’s a process that was set out by an earlier lawsuit and is known as the Hickel process. The court had already found the board failed to comply with the Hickel process in rulings last year.
The Alaska Redistricting Board has gone once again to the Alaska Supreme Court, this time asking the justices to clarify whether an earlier ruling requires it to redraw all of Alaska’s legislative districts from scratch. But while the board waits to hear if the court responds, it is doing little else. An attorney representing opponents of the previous redistricting plan has accused the board of wasting so much time that the 2014 election may have to be held under the same interim districts that yielded one-party rule in Juneau in the 2012 election. “They should get started sooner rather than later,” said Fairbanks attorney Jason Gazewood, representing two Fairbanks-area voters who successfully challenged the board’s 2012 districts in their area and fear a new plan will once again have constitutional flaws.
House Bill 3 is strongly opposed by a number of Southeast leaders, including lawmakers and Native officials. It passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. As of today, it was in the Rules Committee, waiting to be scheduled for the House floor. At a recent hearing, Alaska Native Brotherhood Grand Camp President Bill Martin said a photo-ID requirement could keep people from casting ballots.
Alaska: Some Ballots Thrown Out of Anchorage Election Because of Officials’ Error, New results expected Friday | Alaska Public Media
About 100 ballots from the 2013 Municipal Election were rejected during a public canvas held at city hall last night. The canvas, led by the Anchorage Election Commission, lasted several hours. KSKA’s Daysha Eaton was there and has the story. That’s municipal attorney Dennis Wheeler reading the names of a few of the voters whose ballots were rejected during the Public Canvas Thursday evening. More than 100 questioned ballots were rejected. Ballots were rejected for a variety of reasons — because they were cast in a district in which the voter was not registered … because they were postmarked after election day or because the voter who cast the ballot was not registered at all, among others. The 8-person Election Commission conducted the canvas with help from the clerk’s office and the municipal attorney.