- Alaska Constitutional Provisions
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In 1998, Alaska voters approved Ballot Measure 3, a Constitutional Amendment which fundamentally re-wrote the redistricting process in Alaska. To provide some distance from elected officials who may be directly impacted by revised district boundaries, the new constitutional language delegated line-drawing authority to an independent Redistricting Board, whose members were prohibited from seeking legislative office in the election following adoption of a new redistricting plan.
Note: In earlier decades, redistricting was commonly referred to as "reapportionment". The two terms are often interchangeably used although "reapportionment" technically means the assignment of United States House Representative counts among the 50 states. Since Alaska only has a single U.S. House Representative, Alaska focuses on "redistricting" which is the assignment of specific legislative seats to defined geographic areas.
A dozen other states have seen the wisdom in this approach and many more are considering a similar method of redistricting for future decades.
Article VI enacts the redistricting process in Alaska and spells out the creation and operations of the Redistricting Board.
§ 1. House Districts – Members of the house of representatives shall be elected by the qualified voters of the respective house districts. The boundaries of the house districts shall be set under this article following the official reporting of each decennial census of the United States.
§ 2. Senate Districts – Members of the senate shall be elected by the qualified voters of the respective senate districts. The boundaries of the senate districts shall be set under this article following the official reporting of each decennial census of the United States.
§ 3. Reapportionment of House and Senate – The Redistricting Board shall reapportion the house of representatives and the senate immediately following the official reporting of each decennial census of the United States. Reapportionment shall be based upon the population within each house and senate district as reported by the official decennial census of the United States.
§ 4. Method of Redistricting – The Redistricting Board shall establish forty house districts, with each house district to elect one member of the house of representatives. The board shall establish twenty senate districts, each composed of two house districts, with each senate district to elect one senator.
§ 5. Combining Districts – Repealed by 1998 Ballot Measure No. 3
§ 6. District Boundaries – The Redistricting Board shall establish the size and area of house districts, subject to the limitations of this article. Each house district shall be formed of contiguous and compact territory containing as nearly as practicable a relatively integrated socio-economic area. Each shall contain a population as near as practicable to the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the state by forty. Each senate district shall be composed as near as practicable of two contiguous house districts. Consideration may be given to local government boundaries. Drainage and other geographic features shall be used in describing boundaries wherever possible.
§ 7. Modification of Senate Districts – Repealed by 1998 Ballot Measure No. 3
§ 8. Redistricting Board –
(a) There shall be a redistricting board. It shall consist of five members, all of whom shall be residents of the state for at least one year and none of whom may be public employees or officials at the time of or during the tenure of appointment. Appointments shall be made without regard to political affiliation. Board members shall be compensated.
(b) Members of the Redistricting Board shall be appointed in the year in which an official decennial census of the United States is taken and by September 1 of that year. The governor shall appoint two members of the board. The presiding officer of the senate, the presiding officer of the house of representatives, and the chief justice of the supreme court shall each appoint one member of the board. The appointments to the board shall be made in the order listed in this subsection. At least one board member shall be a resident of each judicial district that existed on January 1, 1999. Board members serve until a final plan for redistricting and proclamation of redistricting has been adopted and all challenges to it brought under section 11 of this article have been resolved after final remand or affirmation.
(c) A person who was a member of the Redistricting Board at any time during the process leading to final adoption of a redistricting plan under section 10 of this article may not be a candidate for the legislature in the general election following the adoption of the final redistricting plan.
§ 9. Board Actions – The board shall elect one of its members chairman and may employ temporary assistants. Concurrence of three members of the Redistricting Board is required for actions of the Board, but a lesser number may conduct hearings. The board shall employ or contract for services of independent legal counsel.
§ 10. Redistricting Plan and Proclamation –
(a) Within thirty days after the official reporting of the decennial census of the United States or thirty days after being duly appointed, whichever occurs last, the board shall adopt one or more proposed redistricting plans. The board shall hold public hearings on the proposed plan, or, if no single proposed plan is agreed on, on all plans proposed by the board. No later than ninety days after the board has been appointed and the official reporting of the decennial census of the United States, the board shall adopt a final redistricting plan and issue a proclamation of redistricting. The final plan shall set out boundaries of house and senate districts and shall be effective for the election of members of the legislature until after the official reporting of the next decennial census of the United States.
(b) Adoption of a final redistricting plan shall require the affirmative votes of three members of the Redistricting Board.
§ 11. Enforcement – Any qualified voter may apply to the superior court to compel the Redistricting Board, by mandamus or otherwise, to perform its duties under this article or to correct any error in redistricting. Application to compel the board to perform must be filed not later than thirty days following the expiration of the ninety-day period specified in this article. Application to compel correction of any error in redistricting must be filed within thirty days following the adoption of the final redistricting plan and proclamation by the board. Original jurisdiction in these matters is vested in the superior court. On appeal from the superior court, the cause shall be reviewed by the supreme court on the law and the facts. Notwithstanding section 15 of article IV, all dispositions by the superior court and the supreme court under this section shall be expedited and shall have priority over all other matters pending before the respective court. Upon a final judicial decision that a plan is invalid, the matter shall be returned to the board for correction and development of a new plan. If that new plan is declared invalid, the matter may be referred again to the board.
Alaska Statutes Title 15 contains a number of provisions which apply to the Redistricting Board.