Friday, April 20, 2012

Judge Rejects Redistricting Board's Amended Proclamation Plan

I'm in a workshop on doing video by Ted Warren from AP.  It's reassuring that at least there is something I'm up to speed on, plus there are good tips for improvement.

But I just checked my email and a reader sent me a copy of the Judge McConahy's order on the Amended Proclamation plan.

Let me get this up now and I'll add more later.   This seems to be the key sentence in the ruling, but I'll have to read more.  I can't cut and paste the pdf I got. 

Essentially, the Board's been told to do a real Hickel process and I suspect the Board is not going to be pleased.  I'm not sure the order is completely realistic - the Board is told to redo Southeast Alaska without consideration of VRA.  My sense is that you have to take both the constitution and VRA into consideration at the same time.

UPDATE:  3:05pm  I'm attaching a copy of the whole order. 120420_Order - Order Remanding Alaska Redistricting Amended Plan Back To Board April 20, 2012


  1. Badly paraphrased interpretation of SE ruling. The judge did NOT say ignore the VRA. The court has ruled that none of the SE districts meet the definition of the required influence districts to comply with VRA in Alaska. Therefore, the Board must implement a constitutional plan in SE districts. The State plan must be first constitutional and then deviate only as necessary to comply with the VRA. Compliance with the VRA is still required statewide. And, in fact, the RIGHTS plan actually provides for the better Native representation in SE than the Board's plan.

  2. Anon, Perhaps I posted too hastily as I sat in a Press Club session on investigative reporting. But on rereading the judge's decision, I don't think I'm too far off. The judge said (among other things)
    1. that the board can't assume all the districts that were NOT challenged in court could be assumed to be Constitutional.
    2. He also said that he had accepted the SE map the first time under the assumption it was drawn that way in order to create a Native influence district for the VRA.
    3. But after that the Supreme Court said every district had to first be drawn constitutionally without regard to the VRA. (This is what I meant by ignoring VRA)
    4. Only after creating a map without consideration of the VRA, could they make the most minimal changes possible to the constitutional requirements in order to comply with the VRA.

    My point was that if you draw the constitutional map without at least keeping the VRA requirements in mind, then when you adjust to comply with the VRA, you may well end up having to make far more significant deviations from the constitution than if you keep them both in mind, even though you focus on the constitutional requirements and create a constitutional map first.

    Given Alaska's geography and sparse population, it may be impossible to draw a map that is truly constitutional. It may well require districts that are not compact or socio-economically integrated in order to keep all the districts equal in size to meet the one person one vote requirement.

    I could be wrong. The private parties claim to be able to do this and I haven't yet looked at all of their objections carefully. But what I've seen of their maps, they have districts that are so large they can only be called 'compact' and socio-economically integrated' with the caveat "it's the only way you can keep the districts equal." The most obvious example is the district that goes from Wrangell-St. Elias to the Bering Sea looping over Fairbanks.

  3. District 39 has to be paired with District 40, therefore the Senate District as a whole may also have to be considered. As well as the rest of the State. With an increase of to over 17,000 people per district, some stretching is required in some areas. District 39 is united by the Yukon River, also an important consideration.

    Plans based on the principles outlined in the state constitution, such as the RIGHTS plan, make a lot of sense if you take a close look at them. They also comply with the VRA, which, you are correct, needs to be taken also into consideration overall. They keep Boroughs intact and allow for improved representation. These plans need to be given serious consideration because they follow the process as directed by law.

    SE can be divided equally into four districts. The VRA does not require "incumbents" to be protected, only that Native constituencies (voters) have certain percentages in a certain number of districts.

    It turns out that it has been recently clarified that no "influence" district is required in SE so it is possible to make districts much more compact and socio-economically integrated. Such compactness would give residents of SE more fair representation as required by the Alaska State Constitution.


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