GOP Redistricting Board Splits Neighborhoods for Political Advantage
Gara calls for end to gerrymandering and for Court to appoint independent master
Today Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) called for the GOP-dominated Redistricting Board to stop offering election maps that tear apart neighborhoods in order to create a GOP tilted election map. The courts have already rejected two Board plans as illegal.
"Instead of issuing maps that honor a voter's right to make a difference, the Board has split apart neighborhoods to draw partisan maps to create a majority of pre-determined GOP districts. That eliminates the fundamental right of one person one vote in favor of gamesmanship and partisanship," said Rep. Gara.
One proposal by the Board, called Plan A, splits Anchorage neighborhoods Fairview, Airport Heights, Turnagain and Spenard apart, and moves Democratic incumbents into more Republican districts. It rips apart communities. For example, it combines the middle class Fairbanks Goldstream neighborhood with rural villages along the Yukon, and it removes the natural pairing of Goldstream and adjoining Ester.
“We’re one neighborhood and should be allowed to speak with one voice,” said Fairview Community Council President S.J. Klein.
Roughly a dozen states have stopped this partisan practice by passing laws requiring non-partisan or bi-partisan redistricting boards. Rep. Gara and Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage) recently called for non-partisan redistricting in Alaska and said they will push legislation to change the constitution to stop one party control of the process. The current Board is comprised of four Republican appointees and one Democrat.
"People get disillusioned about politics when political parties play games with voting and promote party interest over the interests of voters. It's time to join the states that have put an end to partisan gerrymandering," said Rep. Gara. "That means no party should have the ability to draw lines that disenfranchise voters. For this year, the courts should appoint an independent Master to take over the process from the current GOP Board, as the Republican Board has drawn even more partisan lines after the Court deemed its earlier plans illegal."
The Alaska Supreme Court appointed an independent Master in both 1972 and 1992 when Boards played games with the redistricting process.