The Alaska Redistricting Board on Friday submitted the redistricting plan it adopted with the Alaska Supreme Court’s approval to the U.S. Department of Justice. The board is seeking required federal approval, known as “pre-clearance,” that the plan does not diminish Native voting power. The plan it submitted, the Amended Proclamation Plan, was adopted after much debate and legal action. The Supreme Court had earlier issued a surprise ruling the board was to draft a plan without consideration of the federal Voting Rights Act.
Following objections from groups such as the Alaska Federation of Natives and Central Council Tlingit-Haida Indians of Alaska, the court then made a dramatic reversal, and agreed the plan needed to attempt to maximize Native voting influence in Southeast to avoid risking rejection by the Department of Justice. The Voting Rights Act requires redistricting be free from discriminatory purpose, and will not result in “retrogression,” or the reduction in racial minorities ability to exercise their voting power.