The map adopted by the Alaska Redistricting Board as a starting point in its Alaska Supreme Court-ordered redrawing of the state’s election districts likely won’t comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, according to the board’s consultant, Lisa Handley. Handley, who helped the board draw its original plan that was later rejected by the Supreme Court, did an overnight analysis of the plan adopted by the board on Tuesday. She said the federal Voting Rights Act would require the plan to have one additional House seat and one additional Senate seat effectively controlled by Alaska Native voters. The board adopted an initial plan Tuesday afternoon that it felt complied with the Alaska Constitution.
Handley said the new House District 37, which combines parts of Ester and Goldstream Valley with a massive swath of rural Alaska that wraps around the Fairbanks North Star Borough, doesn’t have enough Alaska Native voting age population. At only 33.26 percent, it is far below the requirements for Native voters to effectively decide elections.
“The fifth district — District 37 — is clearly not going to be effective, however,” she wrote. “Not only is the district well below the target percentage of 42.8 percent Alaska Native VAP for the state, it is in the area of the state that requires nearly 50 percent Alaska Native VAP to provide Alaska Native voters with the ability to elect candidates of their choice to office.” The analysis was expected, and the board is currently working on changes to the plan. The board could adopt a plan Thursday afternoon.