Ok, after I put up that last post, where I posted some maps and confessed I didn't know what was going on, I talked to Chair Torgerson about the process.
He showed me on the Auto Bound software how you create a new plan and give it a name. He pulled up a new blank map of Alaska. Well, it's not completely blank. There are lots of lines that he thought were various local boundaries or geographic features. Everyone started with fresh maps.
The techs weren't given any instructions except to just work on districts and learn the software. He said they seemed to be having a hard time getting out of Fairbanks and Kenai, which seem to be the hardest places because of the excess population. My understanding of that is this: each district should be as close to 17,755 people as possible. Fairbanks and Kenai each have enough for, I think five and three districts respectively, but then they have left over population for another half a district. So figuring out how to use that left over population is the hard part.
[UPDATE: I got clarification on this later. Kenai's population works out well to (I think) three complete districts. But Kodiak needs population so they were experimenting with population from Kenai. These are all very preliminary maps as the new techs are getting up to speed on this.]
Torgerson also said they were using a lot of approaches and coming up with unique options.
These working meetings are going to continue through the 21st of June. Board members will drift in and out as their schedule permits. I think there are three Board members here today. I've seen Torgerson and Green, and I think Brodie is in the back working on his own maps. Torgerson thought Jim Holm would fly down for tomorrow. Yes, the Board members will work through the weekend along with Eric, but the other two techs - Ray and Erin - are off for the weekend.
The 21st is also the date that third party plans are due - by noon. During the last process there were a lot of sample maps that people could see and comment on during this stage, if I recall correctly, but it appears that this time there won't be any until next Friday.