Alaska Redistricting Board Meeting – Anchorage LIO

One could easily figure the Alaska Redistricting Board waiting for the recent SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Act to continue deliberating over new legislative districts.  Several groups and interested parties attempted to coerce the Board to continue working after the Alaska Supreme Court decided the previous districts were unconstitutional: the Alaska State Constitution.  One can only imagine the scope of new effects of the recent SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision on US Constitution law.

First note of partisan politics sees the chair of the Redistricting Board is also the chair of the Board of Fish, the Honorable Mr. John Torgerson, a former state judge.

10:07AM – Meeting called to order.

10:09AM – Mr. Michael White, attorney for the Board, states for the record Section 4 and Section 5 of VRA as ruled unconstitutional does have direct effect to the proceedings of the work of the Board.  The Board will work without consideration of Section 4 and 5 of VRA.

Dozens of proposals hang on the wall, and have been provided in smaller formats for the public.  Most proposals have Tanana, Alaska (the one place in the world I consider myself from) consolidated with the rest of the middle Yukon River villages, unlike the presently existing districts.  Ruby, Alaska and Tanana (adjacent to each other on the Yukon River) are the only two middle Yukon villages, primarily Koyukon Athabascan, set with the primarily Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan and Yup’ik Eskimo villages in Southwest Alaska.  Out of all the public gripes of the presently existing districts, I found this fact most upsetting.

10:30AM – Alaskans For Fair and Equitable Redistricting has finely parsed several different proposals.  Former Alaska Republican Party chair Mr. Randy Reudrich is serving as chair for AFFER and has testified to an impressive array of details for the AFFER Revised proposal.  Out of all the proposals hanging on the walls, AFFER probably has the most balanced proposals.  I’m guessing politics will significantly alter AFFER proposals if and when the Redistricting Board begins to adopt final proposals.

11:15AM – Calista Corporation, the regional corporation for the Yup’ik peoples in Southwest Alaska has proposed several maps.  Calista cites using ANCSA boundaries for considering their proposals.  Further analyzing the placement of the Koyukon Athabascan people and middle Yukon villages, the population of these villages are comparatively sparse, and keep being split up between one district and the next proposal to proposal.  They are either paired with Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan, Bering Straights, Northwest Arctic, and North Slope Arctic.  In some cases, three of these historic ethnic groups out of the four are set into one district.  Calista has cited difficulty in sorting this dilemma out.

1:00PM – The room has nearly cleared out now that the meeting has switched over to public testimony, mostly via teleconference.

There is a lot of experience that has gone into the many different proposals, with some participation spanning decades.  Many regions and sub-regions fight to have their constituents generally together, while leaving the rest of the state to work itself out.  It is a complicated process, with an almost unlimited amount of criteria that could add together making a legislative district.  The Board has a standard set of criteria giving definition to the process, with many disparate parties suggesting non-standard criteria as basis for proposals.  From what I hear, it seems there is plenty of awareness and participation from the Alaska Native peoples from all regions around the state.  The majority non-Native population of the state may force some aspects of the proposal that is in the end unfriendly to the Alaska Native vote, but the Alaska Native peoples understand the implications of the recent SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision and will more than likely have the voice of the Alaska Native voice heard leading up to and during the final decision making process of the redistricting work.

Signing off 1:18PM.

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