Let court, not board, handle redistricting

Kathleen Menke

The Alaska Redistricting Board, after well over a year, has failed to adopt either a map or a process that conforms to the requirements of the Alaska Constitution.

The Alaska Constitution requires that House and Senate district boundaries in Alaska be drawn so that Alaskans are fairly represented across the state. This means that districts must be as compact and contiguous as possible and that people within a district, to the extent possible, be united by common socio-economic interests. Boroughs should not be split, unless its population is so large that splitting is necessary, and then only to the degree necessary.

The courts have continued to remand the illegal plans of the Redistricting Board back to the board. The board has decided to run down the clock before the upcoming elections instead of drawing a legal plan of their own or considering other plans that have been presented. They apparently hope they will be allowed a fallback position that serves their partisan best interests.

This process in not working well for Alaskans and should be changed. The courts should realize by now that the board is not making a good faith effort to draw a legal plan that first conforms to the requirements of the Alaska Constitution and also complies with the federal Voting Rights Act.

One such legal plan, the RIGHTS Coalition Plan, has been presented to the board and has broad public support across Alaska. This plan was drawn up according to requirements of the Alaska Constitution and also complies with the federal Voting Rights Act. It keeps boroughs together to the maximum extent possible, provides for compact, contiguous districts that have common socio-economic interests and provides Alaskans from all regions with fair representation.

It's time for the courts in Alaska to take the process back from the partisan redistricting board. It's time to appoint a non-partisan master to draw up a legal plan for Alaskans in a timely manner so Alaskans can fairly plan for their upcoming elections in accordance with the state constitution.

Kathleen M.K. Menke is an Alaska photographer and publisher. She lives in Haines. The RIGHTS Coalition plan is available at www.akrightsplan.com. More information on the Alaska Redistricting Board is at www.akredistricting.org.