JUNEAU -- A recent court decision dramatically increases the likelihood that the Alaska Redistricting Board will seek to have this year's elections conducted under the first plan it adopted, the board's executive director, Taylor Bickford, said Monday.
In March, the Alaska Supreme Court ordered the board to redraw Alaska's legislative boundaries, following a process laid out in an earlier court case, Hickel v. Southeast Conference. It also said that if the board is unable to draft a plan that complies with its order in time for this year's elections, it can petition to have the elections conducted under the plan as an interim plan.
A new plan was drafted but a lower court judge, Michael McConahy, on Friday rejected it, saying it didn't comply with the Supreme Court's order and that the board didn't redraw Southeast Alaska based on state constitutional requirements.
The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday to decide whether to appeal.
Bickford said that before McConahy's decision, the board was "going to struggle" to get an amended plan approved before the June 1 candidate filing deadline. With it, he said the chances of the board petitioning to have the elections conducted under the first plan have increased dramatically.
Were the board to go forward with that, the first plan would have to be modified to address House Districts 1 and 2, two Fairbanks-area districts that McConahy earlier this year ruled were unconstitutional as drawn. The board did not appeal that finding.
In addition to needing the blessing of the courts, the board also must have its planned cleared by the Department of Justice, a process that can take up to 60 days. Justice gave preclearance to the first plan.