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Alaska Redistricting Board sets schedule for new map

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013 3:21 pm | Updated: 3:23 pm, Fri Jun 7, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Redistricting Board on Friday outlined a tentative schedule to create a new map in a little over a month.

The expedited schedule, which was approved unanimously at a board meeting in Anchorage, comes after a Superior Court judge told the board to get to work on redrawing Alaska’s political map.

The board will follow the court-mandated “Hickel plan,” which the court found the board didn’t follow in its original plans. The board aims to have a new map adopted by July 12.

The Hickel plan requires the board to first draw a map that complies with the Alaska Constitution, then test it against the federal Voting Rights Act before finally making changes to the original plan to comply with the federal law.

The board and third parties will have until June 21 at noon to submit new plans that comply with the first phase of the Hickel plan, and the board will take those plans on the road over the following two weeks.

A public meeting in Anchorage is tentatively scheduled for the June 28, at which third parties will have an opportunity to present their plans. Follow-up meetings to hear from the public will be held in Fairbanks on July 1 and in Juneau on July 2.

All the meeting dates are pending flight and space availabilities.

The board was waiting to see whether or not provisions of the Voting Rights Act would be thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court. That decision is expected in early July.

The Fairbanks-area plaintiffs argued that the outcome of the Supreme Court case only impacted latter parts of the Hickel plan. They argued a pending ruling shouldn’t prevent the board from starting work on creating a plan that complies with the state constitution, something that would be needed regardless.

The main complaint of plaintiffs George Riley and Ron Dearborn against the board centers on a district that paired Ester and parts of Goldstream Valley with a rural district reaching to the coast.

After taking the plans across the state, the board plans to meet on July 8 to review the work and the possible outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court case. The eventual goal is to have a final plan adopted on July 12, giving time for a judicial review and challenges.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 and follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

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