Redrawing Alaska's Voting Lines Fairly
Fresh off of getting the 2010 census numbers, The Alaska Redistricting Board opened their doors to the public to hear their thoughts on how Alaska's election lines should be redrawn with the new data.
The Alaska Redistricting Board opened its doors to the public to hear their thoughts on how Alaska's election lines should be redrawn with respect to the recently released 2010 U.S. Census data.
However, this daunting task concerns many Alaskans, particularly, how the soon-to-be drawn lines could affect their representation.
Many Alaska residents are worried about gerrymandering, in which boundaries are manipulated by redrawing the voting lines to favor one political party by splitting or combining neighborhoods.
The first day of public testimony gave residents the opportunity to speak up on Alaska's new redistricting plan and to give feedback on how they would be represented.
“It would make sense to come up with a more legitimate or better boundary...it does sort of cut a neighborhood,” said one resident.
“The decisions that are made on your behalf, in government, local government at the assembly, at the school board, or the legislature...they all end up basically being impacted by redistricting,” said Joelle Hall, a member of Alaskans For Fair Redistricting, a group that seeks a fair redistricting process.
And representation of each area depends on how each district is carved out.
“I tell folks it's forty districts divided by population,” said John Togerson, the chair of the Alaska Redistricting Board.
With a population that's grown from 626,920 in 2000 to 710,231in 2010, the population spike has proved to be a problem for the redistricting board.
“If you move 500 people out of any one of those districts into another one, you've got to move all the other 39 [districts] also,” said Togerson.
“Anchorage, in this new census data, is entitled is 17.5 seats. That means, by definition, .25 of Anchorage will either be in some other community or we have to go north, we have to east, we have to go west, we have to go some direction to get population,” said Hall.
That particular population issue has been a challenge for the Chugach-Parks area, known as House District 16.
“They come and testify, you know, 'leave my district alone. It's fine the way it is,'” said Togerson.
“They're all compact and nice...they know we have to change the boundaries because you have one district that has gained 9,000 and one that's lost 4,000.”
Which begs the question: How can the process of redistricting be done fairly?
“We are not looking to go out and gerrymander,” said Togerson. “One person, one vote is a very important policy of the United States when we redistrict for reapportion.”
Alaskans For Fair Redistricting say the redistricting process has come to a point that's balanced within our current Alaska State Senate--ten republicans and ten democrats.
The Alaska Redistricting Board has 30 days to devise a draft and 60 days to create a final version of the redistricting.