One of the most important and complicated insider games in politics moves back to the Alaska Supreme Court this week with an appeal by the Alaska Redistricting Board of its method for redrawing the state’s legislative map. In a petition filed Tuesday, the board is asking the high court to overturn a decision by a Fairbanks judge that the board failed to first rely on state law for drawing up “one-person, one vote” districts before adjusting them to prevent Alaska Native votes from being illegally diluted. Native voting rights are protected by the U.S. Justice Department under the federal Voting Rights Act. The Alaska Supreme Court has previously ruled that the Voting Rights Act should be applied only after state requirements are met.
In its appeal, the board said the decision by the Fairbanks Superior Court judge, Michael McConahy, amounted to improper interference in its duties. In addition to asking it to overrule McConahy, the board asked the Supreme Court to take over the review of the entire redistricting process rather than send it back to the lower court.
As redistricting grinds on without a final map of the state’s 40 House and 20 Senate districts, it’s looking more likely that the 2012 election will be held under an interim plan. Last week, Gail Fenumiai, the state elections director, notified the redistricting board that her division must be given new district boundaries by May 14 if it is to conduct the Aug. 28 primary.