The Alaska Redistricting Board will have to draw a map in line with the state constitution, but its final plan doesn’t necessarily have to be dramatically different from the one that ended up in court, the Alaska Supreme Court has affirmed.
The court issued an order on April 24 in response to questions posed by the board regarding the process it was expected to use in the latest court-mandated revision of the redistricting map. The order requires the board to first draw a map that complies with the Alaska Constitution before making changes to meet the federal Voting Rights Act that requires protection of Alaska Native voters. It’s a process that was set out by an earlier lawsuit and is known as the Hickel process. The court had already found the board failed to comply with the Hickel process in rulings last year.
The latest ruling doesn’t mean the final map produced by a new Hickel plan process will yield wildly different results. In the same request it filed in April, the board asked if it was prohibited from using any boundaries used in the 2012 elections.
The court said no, “as long as the Board begins by constructing districts that meet the requirements of the Alaska Constitution — that is, as long as the Board follows the Hickel process — the fact that resulting district is the same as or similar to a previous district will not in and of itself preclude the new district from being approved.”