The Alaska Democratic Party filed suit Tuesday to challenge the Alaska Redistricting Board's latest map dividing the state into House and Senate districts.
The board's third attempt at drawing legislative boundaries using the 2010 census was already under court challenge by two Fairbanks-area voters, and Democratic Party lawyer Joe McKinnon said he's going to ask his case to be joined with theirs. Mike Walleri, one of the lawyers for the Fairbanks voters, said he hadn't seen the new lawsuit but said he probably won't object.
The Democratic Party lawsuit said the Redistricting Board, weighted 4-1 with Republicans, drew unconstitutional boundaries by taking voters from the Kenai and Matanuska-Susitna boroughs and putting them in districts outside their boroughs. The party also objected to rural district boundaries and with districts in the Fairbanks area.
In a prepared statement announcing the lawsuit on the last day it could be filed, the party accused the Redistricting Board of creating unconstitutional districts to ensure strong Republican majorities in the Legislature. Mike Wenstrup, Democratic Party chairman, said it was time for the court to take over redistricting by appointing an independent master to finish the job.
The Democratic Party lawsuit was filed in Fairbanks Superior Court, where Judge Michael McConahy has been hearing the earlier case brought by George Riley of Ester and Ron Dearborn of Goldstream.
While the Democratic Party had earlier joined the Riley lawsuit as a "friend of the court" when the case was heard by the Alaska Supreme Court, this is the first time the party has sued directly.
The redistricting board is asking McConahy to dismiss the case and accept the map it approved July 14, arguing it fulfilled all the requirements of the Alaska Constitution.
But McKinnon said the latest version "in some ways is worse" than the board's previous attempts, including the one under which the 2012 election was held on an interim basis.
Reach Richard Mauer at firstname.lastname@example.org  or 257-4345.
By RICHARD MAUER