With less than three weeks left before the primary filing deadline, confusion leads at the polls. The Alaska Supreme Court ordered Thursday that the so-called “amended” redistricting plan should be used for 2012. The court has not decided on the key constitutional questions raised by Fairbanks plaintiffs who object to the proposed Goldstream/Ester/Bering Sea House district. It’s not at all clear that any new plan will be in place by the June 1 filing deadline for the state primary election. This creates confusion on many fronts, starting with candidates and potential supporters. The next major step may be in federal court, and the issues raised there could lead to a request that the existing districts be kept in place for the 2012 elections while the challenges related to the state Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act are dealt with.
Mike Walleri, the lawyer representing the two Fairbanks men challenging the Goldstream/Ester/Bering Sea district, said we are in a unique situation where the legitimacy of that district is being challenged both by majority and minority interests for different reasons. His clients, Fairbanksans George Riley and Ron Dearborn, object to being placed in a district that does not include Fairbanks.
A Superior Court judge has ruled the district is unconstitutional because it is not socioeconomically integrated. The Alaska Supreme Court has not weighed in on that question. Meanwhile, various Alaska Native entities are also objecting to the use of Goldstream/Ester to create a district that they say diminishes Alaska Native voting strength and is not allowed under the federal Voting Rights Act.
Full Article: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.