Alaska Supreme Court denies redistricting motions

The Alaska Supreme Court has denied a motion to delay implementation of the state’s new redistricting plan.

The Riley plaintiffs to the lawsuit, from Fairbanks, filed a motion last week to block the court’s order until the U.S. Justice Department clears the plan under the Voting Rights Act. In its order the Supreme Court said it would consider a new motion if DOJ fails to approve the plan before the August 28 primary election.

The Supreme Court also has denied Petersburg’s motion calling for a rehearing on the house district’s plan. Petersburg argued that the court overlooked a “Native influence” House district in Southeast Alaska. Petersburg objects to being in a House and Senate district with downtown Juneau and maintains that it belongs in a district with smaller Southeast communities.

Meanwhile, the candidate filing deadline for the legislature remains 5 p.m. Friday (June 1). The court on Wednesday also rejected the Alaska Democratic Party’s petition to delay filing for at least two weeks.

In its May 29 petition, ADP director Kay Brown said multiple redistricting plans have created plenty of uncertainty over new district lines.

The Alaska Supreme Court last week threw out the Redistricting Board’s latest plan and adopted the April 5 version.  The ruling came just ten days before the June 1 candidate filing deadline. Brown said that was not enough time for candidates to evaluate the election district and get their paperwork to the division.

Democrats wanted the deadline extended until the U.S. Justice Department clears the plan, or at least until June 8.

State Elections director Gail Fenumiai has said no deadlines needed changing because the division mapped each scenario as it was released by the redistricting board. She said precinct boundaries for the April 5 plan have already been drawn.

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