As the Alaska Redistricting Board sits mostly idle despite a December 2012 state Supreme Court decision that ordered all 40 voting districts to be redrawn, a Fairbanks Superior Court judge Thursday offered up a verbal smackdown to the board, chastising the inaction and ordering public hearings related to the next redrawing process. “Alaskans are no closer to having constitutional voting districts today” than they were in December, said Superior Court judge Michael McConahy. Every 10 years, Alaska’s voting lines are ordered to be redrawn according to the latest U.S. Census data. In Alaska, not only are there state requirements to be met, but any redistricting plan must also appease the federal Voting Rights Act. Alaska is among several states requiring Department of Justice confirmation that minority groups aren’t subject to discrimination by proposed voting changes.
The Alaska Redistricting Board said in April that it was waiting on a U.S. Supreme Court decision, expected soon, which could alter those Voting Rights Act requirements.
That, in turn, could streamline the re-redistricting process ordered by the court, since the board would then only have to meet the state constitutional requirements. But McConahy said that the board’s current plan may not provide enough time to successfully redraw Alaska’s voting districts.
“There is no reason to delay this process any further,” McConahy wrote.
While McConahy declined to specify deadlines for when a new plan might be presented, he did order the board to hold public hearings during their revisited redistricting process.
“The Board contends it is not required to hold hearings. It is wrong,” he wrote. “Any argument that the hearings held in 2011 on plans that were found to be unconstitutional is inartful at best. At worst it is a sad commentary upon Alaska life and constitutional principles.”