"This is a separation of powers issue. The court is trying to tell a constitutionally created board how to do its work," said John Torgerson, a former legislator from Kenai. "We came down on the side that we wanted to protect Native voting strength in Southeast."
Election district boundaries were revised repeatedly as the Southeast towns of Petersburg, then Haines, then Petersburg again became part of a Juneau-based district.
Without a speedy decision from the U.S. Department of Justice on whether the last plan adheres to the provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act, the Aug. 28 primary election may have to be delayed until September, Torgerson told the Juneau Empire.
Torgerson has returned from a visit to Washington, D.C. to talk to Justice officials assigned to Alaska, but he wasn't sure whether his plea for a rapid decision was heard.
"They don't hardly even nod at you, so you don't know if you did a good job or bad," he told the Juneau Empire.
The Alaska Redistricting Board did the best it could to move quickly, but the court system, which is supposed to provide expedited review of redistricting, needs to be able to move more quickly, he said.