Last week, the Alaska Redistricting Board signed off on a redrawn plan it hoped would resolve a slew of issues that led the Alaska Supreme Court to throw it out, but it’s already facing widespread opposition. Seven parties, including the plaintiffs who first brought the lawsuit and the Fairbanks North Star Borough, filed objections against the redistricting board’s new election district map earlier this week. While the objections have a wide range of specific concerns, the general theme throughout is that the board hadn’t followed the a process set out in an earlier redistricting battle. The process, known as the Hickel Process, requires the board to draw a plan that complies with the Alaska Constitution’s requirements for socioeconomic contiguity and district compactness, then test it against the federal Voting Rights Act before making any deviations to comply with the federal requirements.
The board spent about a week and a half to redraw the new plan, relying on much of their earlier work in drawing new district lines. The newly adopted plan closely resembles the contested plan, including a move that combined parts of Ester and Goldstream valley with a rural district stretching to the Bering Sea. The objection filed by plaintiffs George Riley and Ron Dearborn, residents in the questioned district, said the plan still fails to pass constitutional muster and that the board failed to follow the Hickel process.