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Alaska Superior Court rejects 2nd state Senate map in Anchorage redistricting battle

Superior Court Judge ruled that this violates “equal protection under the Alaska Constitution.”
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 12:09 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - A revised map outlining boundaries for state Senate districts has been rejected by the Alaska Superior Court, which called it a “partisan gerrymander,” much like its predecessor, according to a court ruling.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Matthews ruled Monday that the latest map put forth by the Alaska Redistricting Board gives the Eagle River district an unequal share of voting power by splitting it into two districts when combined with other districts within the Municipality of Anchorage.

Matthews ruled that this violates “equal protection under the Alaska Constitution.”

“... the Amended Plan still provides Eagle River with effective control of two senate seats,” Matthews wrote. “Girdwood Plaintiffs have challenged the map claiming it still amounts to a partisan gerrymander. This Court agrees.”

The redistricting board approved the newest Senate map of Anchorage in mid-April after the state Supreme Court rejected a previous map in March that paired some of the Muldoon area in East Anchorage with a portion of the Eagle River.

Matthews ordered the board to adopt on an interim basis a map that pairs the Eagle River area House districts into a Senate district. The decision comes in a second round of challenges to redistricting maps.

The map currently being debated proposes to link Senate Districts 9 and 10, which combine to form District E. The areas include a large chunk of Eagle River with the Turnagain Arm and Girdwood communities.

Girdwood plaintiffs challenged on April 25 that the map violated their protections under the state constitution by denying “an equally powerful and geographically effective vote and ignor[ing] the demographic, economic, political and geographic differences between the Eagle River and Girdwood communities.”

The primary election in August has a candidate filing deadline of June 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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