High court sends redistricting plan back for work
JUNEAU (AP) — The Alaska Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state Redistricting Board to rework House and Senate districts in southeast Alaska for a plan to be used for this year's elections.
The reformulated plan is due to the court for further consideration by noon Tuesday — a day after the Division of Elections has said it needs to have a valid plan in place to meet state and federal obligations for the elections. Any objections to the new districts are due by May 18.
The board will be working from the same plan that Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy rejected last month, after finding, in part, that the board didn't redraw southeast Alaska based on state constitutional requirements. That plan also represented the board's second attempt at a workable plan.
The high court rejected the board's request to have this year's elections conducted under the first plan it drew — one that sparked the current legal fight.
Just hours after hearing arguments in the case Thursday, the supreme court ordered the board to rework House Districts 31-34 and Senate Districts P and Q in southeast Alaska. It said the reformulated plan should not be altered based on the federal voting rights act because, the court said, there is no justification under the act for deviating from state constitutional requirements in the region.
Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said election officials are ready to start making the required amendments as soon as the court finalizes the matter. "Based on the order this will most likely happen after May 21," she said in an email.
The plan also still needs to win preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice. The board's executive director, Taylor Bickford, said the board is confident that will happen, but the process can take up to 60 days.
The candidate filing deadline is June 1. The primary is Aug. 28.
Bickford said the board will likely meet Monday to rework the districts.