Thursday, July 14, 2011

Three Challenges To Redistricting Plan Arrived By Deadline - Cases Attached

[The court filings for all three challenges are at the bottom of this post.]

Yesterday - June [July] 13 - was the deadline for challenges to the Alaska Redistricting Board's Plan.  We've known about the Fairbanks North Star Borough's impending challenge since the Borough Assembly voted to challenge the board's plan last month.

click to enlarge considerably
Along with that challenge comes one from George Riley, 'a qualified voter who resides in Ester"  and Ron Dearborn, 'a qualified voter who resides in Goldstream.'   These are the two, generally considered more liberal, communities just outside the Fairbanks city limits which have been put into the huge new District 38 which stretches out to Hooper Bay.  (See the blue district on the map.)

I've only had time to glance at these two challenges.  The focus seems to be
1.  The board valued minimizing deviation (from the ideal district size of 17,755) too high, short changing other values such as "socially and economically integrated."
2.  Thus they put what is essentially suburban Fairbanks neighborhoods into a district with predominantly Native villages with no running water or sewage systems whose socio-economic interests are vastly different.

There's a lot more listed, but on first glance, that seems to be the crux.  I need to go back and review more.  (So many posts like that unfortunately.)  You can read the complete challenges below.

The third challenge comes from the City of Petersburg, and three Petersburg voters - Mark L. Jensen Nancy C. Strand, and Brenda L. Norheim.  Their complaint seems to center on the fact that Petersburg is socio-economically integrated with Sitka and other smaller SE villages and has been linked with them in their previous district.  Linking them with "with part of the City and Borough of Juneau (in District 32), a municipality with which Petersburg does not share such common socio-economic interests."

The complete Petersburg challenge is below.

My understanding is that all three challenges will be lumped together.  While I watched the redistricting board at work and listened to some of the public testimony, it was clear that 'socio-economic integration' means different things to different people.  If there's a district that links interior, road-system, basically non-Native towns to roadless, Native villages on the Coast, then complaints by Muldoon folks that they aren't 'socio-economically integrated' with Eagle River are unconvincing (though the board managed to unlink them.)

Petersburg's challenge, it would seem, doesn't have a chance if Fairbanks' challenge to District 38 doesn't prevail.

The Fairbanks News Miner  reported on the Borough's challenge. [And they have a link to the Borough's court documents.] So did the Anchorage Daily News.  They reported the Democrats and Alaskans for Fair Redistricting are NOT filing challenges because they thought they could better spend the money it would take on elections. 

The Board itself will meet Monday, July 18, at 10 am in their headquarters. According to board Executive Director Taylor Bickford, there will be some public meeting to announce the challenges to the board's plan and the status of the preclearance* report to be sent to the Justice Department.   Then the board will go into executive session to discuss litigation  and preclearance strategies.

*Because Alaska has had Voting Rights Act violations in the past, it is one of 16 states that need Department of Justice 'preclearance' before implementing their plan.

The Court Documents

[Scribd has been having problems.  The documents are below, but if they don't show up, be patient and try again soon.]

Fairbanks North Star Borough 's Complaint Re Redistricting Board

George Riley v. Alaska Redistricting Board

City of Petersburg Challenge to Redistricting Plan


  1. Steve-
    Thank you!
    nitpick:yesterday was July 13

    Thank you more important than nitpick...

    Alaska Pi


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.