Gerrymandering In Alaska
The way Alaska draws its congressional districts is criticized by those out of the process, defended by those who implement it.
Gerrymandering. How Alaska creates district boundaries can tilt the balance towards one party or one candidate. Examples are legion for House of Representative districts nationwide. But how does it play out in Alaska, with one DC seat but 60 Alaska House and Senate districts?
"Right now the way the commission is established, it's always going to be a partisan commission," says former redistricting commissioner Godon Harrison. "So you're going to get a partisan plan instead of a non-partisan plan."
"Right now it's a predominantly Republican legislature with a Republican governor so they have no interest at all in changing it. It's a good government reform that's not going anywhere."
Harry Crawford was a state legislator for years in Anchorage, and says he saw the districting process change Alaska's political math. "In the 90s, we went from a House that was 22 Democrats and 18 Republicans to one that was 28 Republicans to 12 Democrats over night."
Alaska hands the redistricting process to a five person commission. 2 appointed by the Governor, 1 each by the House and Senate - and a 5th member added by the Alaska Supreme Court.
John Torgerson is the current redistricting chair, and is ramping up the procedures for the upcoming months. He downplays the politicization , saying that it comes with the territory.
"Ten years ago it was 3 Democrats and 2 republicans. It's the nature of the beast. There are 4 or 5 people on the board, and four are republicans -- I honestly don't know what the fifth member is."
Crawford's vantage point as a former legislator makes him see the game as high-stakes political hardball. "We have if not the most partisan process, it's among the most partisan processes in the states here in Alaska."