Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Anchorage Public Hearing Today - Harrison Suggests it Can't Be Fair Anyway

I know - I sound like a broken record.

The first Alaska Redistricting Board public hearing is today (Tuesday) in Anchorage from noon to 7pm at the:  

Anchorage Legislative Information Office Building 
716 West Fourth Avenue Room 220  

You (anybody, not just Alaskans) can also listen in from your computer:

Audio streamed via http://alaskalegislature.tv/

Wednesday they'll be in Wasilla
Noon to 7pm
Wasilla City Hall City 
Council Chambers 
290 East Herning

Meanwhile a reader pointed out an article by former executive director of the Alaska Redistricting Board, Gordon S Harrison, in the Alaska Law Review several years ago. It goes to the question I asked yesterday - can the Board be fair?


In the recent redistricting cycle in Alaska, the newly created Alaska Redistricting Board did not function as a bipartisan redistricting commission. There is no reason to expect it to do so in the future. Thus, the new Board is no improvement over the method of gubernatorial redistricting that it replaced. By both methods, one party may partition the state into election districts of its choice, constrained only by constitutional standards that are by no means a complete barrier to gerrymandering.
Partisan gerrymandering insults the democratic values of fair and equal representation for all citizens. Harm to the public interest from partisan gerrymanders can be avoided by giving both major parties a role in the redistricting process. Bipartisan participation can be accomplished by assigning the task to the legislature and requiring a supermajority vote to pass a redistricting bill. Public commissions such as the Alaska Redistricting Board are ill-suited to the rough-and-tumble politics of redistricting. Conflicts over redistricting are best resolved in the legislature.
A legislatively drawn redistricting plan will be self-serving, to be sure, but it should reasonably reflect the relative electoral strength of the two major parties. This outcome may not be an [*pg 79] ideal one, but it is an improvement over a redistricting plan that gives a disproportionately large electoral advantage to the major party. A bipartisan redistricting plan is the best that can be hoped for in the real political world.

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