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New legal filing challenges Alaska’s redistricting plan

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A legal challenge has been filed claiming proposed state Senate districts for Anchorage unconstitutionally favor Eagle River.

The motion to reject the amended redistricting plan and to modify it was filed Monday as Anchorage Superior Court Judge Thomas Matthews considers the legality of the map approved last week by the state’s redistricting board, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The new map was drawn after portions of the board’s first proposal were ruled unconstitutional by the Alaska Supreme Court.

Each state Senate district is comprised of two House districts.

The board’s first proposal sought to link Eagle River to the south Muldoon area of Anchorage, which the Alaska Supreme Court called an “unconstitutional political gerrymander.” The court ruled in a lawsuit brought by east Anchorage residents Felisa Wilson, George Martinez and Yarrow Silvers, who also filed Monday’s challenge.

The new proposal seeks to link south Eagle River to south Anchorage and north Eagle River to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The new challenge claims the redistricting board incorrectly interpreted the court’s instructions by keeping Muldoon districts together but again split the Eagle River districts.

“As a result, the board preserved, and in many ways exacerbated, the unconstitutional political gerrymander rejected by this court,” the filing states.

The filing seeks an order requiring the board to keep both House districts in Eagle River together.

The board stands by its decision, executive director Peter Torkelson said.

“We believe the board complied with the remand court order and will be filing a response to the east Anchorage motion soon,” he said.

The deadline for candidates to file to run in this year’s legislative races is June 1, and some candidates have been waiting for a final legislative map before filing.

If Matthews approve the map, it could end the redistricting process. However, if he rejects it, he could order the board to redraw the map or enable the court system to draw a final map.



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