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.
Articles about voting issues in Alaska.
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.
Voters in a West Anchorage assembly race might be facing some bubble trouble. Starting Saturday, city officials will begin hand counting more than 7,000 votes cast in last Tuesday’s municipal election after concerns that some ovals marked correctly, according to municipal code, might not have been counted. At least that’s what the campaign of Nick Moe, the 26-year-old write-in candidate, is saying. Moe challenged incumbent Anchorage Assembly chairman Ernie Hall after Hall cut off testimony on a controversial ordinance designed to limit the power labor unions that do work for the city. On Monday, Moe’s campaign requested that Anchorage conduct a hand count of ballots in Assembly District 3, Seat D. That came after the city released a statement saying it would not perform a hand count unless the total number of write-in votes cast were equal to or more than the amount of votes for the leading candidate. The same release noted that there may be “other circumstances” where the votes would be hand-counted.
A bill that would require Alaska’s voters to present photo identification at the polls has been moved out of its final committee of referral in the House of Representatives. HB3, by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, was advanced from the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. The measure now moves to the House Rules Committee, which could schedule it for a vote. It would then go to the Senate if it passes. The bill would stipulate that voters present a form of photo ID or two forms of non-photo identification to election officials. If two officials know the voter, the identification requirement can be waived. Voters who do not meet any of those requirements could still submit a questioned ballot and prove their identity later.
A controversial bill that critics say will make it harder for Alaskans to vote by imposing new identification requirements cleared its first committee Thursday despite objections from the AARP, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Alaska Association of Municipal Clerks and the American Civil Liberties Union. One of the sponsors, Anchorage Republican Rep. Bob Lynn, said House Bill 3 won’t stop a single person from voting and that some of the critics have misconstrued what he aims to do. “I want to emphasize that the only purpose of HB 3 is simply to help ensure that the person who shows up at the polling place is actually the person who they say they are. And I think that’s basically a pretty good idea,” said Lynn, who chairs the State Affairs Committee that passed the bill out with lukewarm support.
Alaska: Does Alaska have a voter fraud problem? – Despite controversy, voter ID bill takes next step in Alaska Legislature | Alaska Dispatch
A voter ID bill that drew sharp criticism from U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on his recent visit to the Alaska Legislature is moving forward, with its sponsor denying the senator’s claims about the bill. Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, said his House Bill 3 was the victim of “misinformation” spread by Begich, D-Alaska. “Nothing whatsoever in House Bill 3 prevents anyone from voting if they are registered and motivated to vote,” he said Thursday, while chairing the House State Affairs Committee hearing his bill. Those who don’t have photo ID can present other forms of identification or cast questioned ballots, he said. Stricter voter ID requirements was the focus of Begich’s remarks – and his criticisms were reinforced at a hearing Thursday by Jeffrey Mittman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska and Joy Huntington of the Tanana Chiefs Conference.