FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2013
Gara, French Demand End to Partisan Redistricting in Alaska
Two steps: Replace GOP Board with non-partisan expert; develop non-partisan process for 2022
Today Representative Les Gara and Senator Hollis French (both D-Anchorage) called for two steps to stop the abusive practice of partisan redistricting, or “gerrymandering,” and ensure all Alaskans get fair representation in the state legislature. The current partisan-based Redistricting Board is over a year overdue and its inability to draw a fair plan forced Alaskans to vote under an unconstitutional plan in 2012.
“By a wide margin, Alaskans are not partisan. Letting one party draw lines that virtually guarantee its candidates win forces partisanship on the voters in those districts, and dilutes the people’s independent voice,” said Gara.
To ensure the current redistricting process is fair to all Alaskans, Gara and French are calling on the Redistricting Board and parties in the current case to request the Court appoint an independent, non-partisan “Masters” to draw a new plan as has been done to resolve failed redistricting plans in Alaska in 1972 and 1992. To address the issue for the long-term, Gara and French hope to work with other members of the Legislature to find a way to join the roughly dozen other states that require either bi-partisan or non-partisan redistricting.
“Alaskans should have confidence that their voting districts were drawn in line with the standards set out in Alaska’s constitution, and not designed for the benefit of any political party,” said French.
Last week, a Fairbanks court issued an opinion chiding the current GOP-dominated Redistricting Board for its refusal to draw a new map in a timely manner or to accept public input on that map once it is redrawn. The court called the Board’s claims “at the most generous, disingenuous” and said “trust in the Board to comply with court orders was misplaced.” The court continued, “the failure to adopt a plan consistent with the Alaska Constitution results in depriving the whole state of Alaska of proper representation.”
In 2012 a 5 member Board, with a 4-1 GOP majority in membership, drew maps to take districts away from senators and representatives who opposed the governor’s $1-$2 billion oil tax giveaway. Alaska law allowed the Republican led Senate, House and Republican Governor to appoint 4 of the 5 Redistricting Board members. The Alaska Supreme Court has twice found redistricting plans by this Board to be illegal, but because the Board
could not develop a legal plan in time, the Court allowed the state to use one of the illegal plans for the 2012 election. The Board has still not produced a new plan and Alaska’s redistricting is still unresolved a year after deadline.
Read the recent Superior Court opinion: