JUNEAU -- A federal judge on Friday denied the request of several Alaska Natives to temporarily bar the state from implementing a new redistricting plan.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason came one day after she heard arguments in the case against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and state Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai.
The four plaintiffs allege that the state is violating the federal voting rights act by moving ahead with election preparations under a new redistricting plan before the plan is "precleared," or approved, by the U.S. Department of Justice. They sought a temporary restraining order to block further implementation of the plan until a three-judge panel can hear the case.
They want the panel to block the state from using the plan until it wins preclearance from the Justice Department, which could also deny the plan or ask for more information. As part of their request, the plaintiffs also are seeking to have candidate filings under the plan declared null and void.
Gleason, in her decision, said the plaintiffs did not present sufficient evidence to show that, absent a restraining order, specified irreparable harm would occur before the three-judge panel meets. She said the finding was premised on the assumption the panel meets and rules in the case long before the scheduled Aug. 28 primary.
An attorney for the plaintiffs, Natalie Landreth, said Thursday that the panel is expected to meet in late June.
The Alaska Redistricting Board asked the Justice Department to review the plan after the state Supreme Court in May signed off on use of the plan for the 2012 elections. Candidates filed to run based on the boundaries of that plan.
Any plan must pass muster both with the courts and Justice.
The Justice Department review process can take up to 60 days, though the redistricting board sought expedited review.