Alaska Redistricting Board Chairman John Torgerson criticized the Alaska Supreme Court for how it handled its involvement in drawing new state election maps in a speech to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. “This is a separation of powers issue, the court is trying to tell a constitutionally created board how to do its work,” the former Kenai legislator said. Juneau and its Southeast neighbors got a close-up look at that involvement when they were whipsawed back and forth, with first Petersburg, then Haines and finally Petersburg again part of a Juneau-based district. That happened as the court reversed itself on how it viewed the board’s attempt to create a Native-influenced voting district in Southeast. “We came down on the side that we wanted to protect Native voting strength in Southeast,” Torgerson said.
The Supreme Court however, told the board it had to follow the state constitutional requirement that districts be as compact, contiguous and economically integrated as possible. That could only be done, Torgerson said, by taking Petersburg out of the Juneau districts and putting in Haines and northern Lynn Canal. “That was the most compact and socioeconomically integrated we could possibly come up with,” he said. Then the court, facing public criticism, said, “no, we’ll overturn ourselves” and swapped Petersburg back in, he said. It was a 3-2 decision, but “three is enough to make the law of the land,” he said.
Full Article: Board chairman: Courts to blame for election map problems No guarantee election will happen as scheduled, Torgerson tells Chamber of Commerce | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper.