JUNEAU, Alaska — A state court judge on Tuesday ordered the Alaska Redistricting Board to stick to its proposed timeline for redrawing the state's political boundaries.
Under the schedule approved by the board last week, the panel plans to begin the process of drafting a new plan Wednesday, with a goal of having a finalized plan by July 12. Chairman John Torgerson had said that timeline could slip by a day or so.
Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy on Tuesday found the board's timeframe to be similar to one he had earlier proposed. But in a footnote to his order, he said violation of the deadline "carries with it all remedies available under the rules and common law."
McConahy's order came in response to a request from plaintiffs to establish a timeline for the plan. He also urged the timely filing of any challenges to whatever plan is ultimately adopted, to speed further judicial review.
The board has been ordered to design a plan focused on state constitutional requirements, then determine if it complies with federal law. If the plan doesn't comply, the board is to make revisions deviating from the constitution when that is the only means available to meet requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling soon on provisions of the voting act. Alaska is required to get Justice Department approval for redistricting plans or proposed election changes. Under federal law, its redistricting plan cannot weaken the Alaska Native community's ability to elect candidates of their choosing.
If the provisions of the federal law remain intact, the board would have an expert advise it on whether its proposed map complies and go from there, the board's attorney has said.
The schedule adopted by the board last week calls for it to adopt a draft plan or plans by June 21, which is also when third-party proposals are due. The board plans to hold hearings and begin work on finalizing a plan July 8.
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