On April 8, 2021, Professor Levitt was called to government service. Stay tuned for an update on the continued operation of this site.
Prof. Justin Levitt's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

State Summary

Alaska has only one congressional district.  The state uses an independent commission to draw state legislative districts.  On Aug. 6, 2020, the Chief Justice selected the final member of the commission, which  includes three Republicans and two voters with undeclared party preferences.

In the 2010 cycle, the independent commission issued its legislative maps on June 13, 2011; the maps were precleared on Oct. 11, 2011, but rejected by the courts.  The commission issued a new plan on Apr. 5, 2011 that was precleared on June 27, 2012; that plan was rejected by the courts going forward but approved for interim use for the 2012 elections only.   The commission issued a third plan on July 14, 2013; court challenges to this final map were rejected.

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Seats: (projected)

Institution:

Drawn by:

Plan Status:

Party Control:
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Key Info for 2000 Cycle

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Data

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The Latest Updates

Aug 6, 2020
The final member of Alaska's 5-person independent redistricting commission was selected.

Institution

Alaska has only one congressional district.

Alaska’s state legislative lines are drawn by a five-member independent commission, in place since 1998. None of the commissioners may be public officials or employees when they are appointed to serve. The Governor chooses two commissioners, the state Senate and House majority leaders each choose one, and the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court chooses one; each commissioner must be chosen without regard to party affiliation. Each commissioner must have lived in Alaska for at least a year, and at least one commissioner must be appointed from each of the state’s judicial districts. [Alaska Const. art. VI, § 8]

On Aug. 6, 2020, the Chief Justice selected the final member of the commission, which  includes three Republicans and two voters with undeclared party preferences.

Timing

Alaska state law requires that its commission draw initial proposals for state legislative lines within 30 days of the commissioners’ appointment or within 30 days of the delivery of Census data, whichever is later (and in 2021, that will be 30 days from the delivery of data). The commission then holds hearings on the proposals and makes appropriate adjustments. Final maps are due 90 days after the commission’s appointment or delivery of the Census data, whichever is later (and again, in 2021, the relevant deadline is 90 days from the delivery of data). [Alaska Const. art. VI, § 10]

Candidates must file for the state legislative primary elections by June 1, 2022. [Alaska Stat. § 15.25.040]

Alaska prohibits redrawing district lines mid-decade, before the next Census. [Alaska Const. art. VI, § 10]

Public input

Alaska requires public hearings on plan proposals.  [Alaska Const. art. VI, § 10]

In the 2010 redistricting cycle, citizens were entitled to submit proposed maps to the Redistricting Board, and these proposals were also evaluated at hearings.  Meetings of the Board from the last cycle are archived here, and public meetings are archived here.

Criteria

Like all states, Alaska must comply with constitutional equal population requirements; state law further demands that state legislative districts be populated as nearly equally as practicable. [Alaska Const. art. VI, § 6In re 2001 Redistricting Cases, 47 P.3d 141, 145-46 (Alaska 2002)]

Alaska must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.  Alaska deploys a unique process to accomplish this objective: lines must first be drawn pursuant only to the state criteria below, and only thereafter may districts be adjusted (if necessary) to comply with the Voting Rights Act.  [In re 2011 Redistricting Cases, 294 P.3d 1032, 1037-38 (Alaska 2012); In re 2011 Redistricting Cases, 274 P.3d 466, 467-68 (Alaska 2012)]

For its state legislative lines, the Alaska constitution requires that districts be contiguous and compact. [Alaska Const. art. VI, § 6Hickel v. Southeast Conference, 846 P.2d 38, 44-46 (Alaska 1992); In re 2001 Redistricting Cases, 44 P.3d 141, 143 (Alaska 2002)] Each district must also contain as nearly as practicable a “relatively integrated socio-economic area.” [Alaska Const. art. VI, § 6In re 2001 Redistricting Cases, 47 P.3d 1089, 1091, 1094 (Alaska 2002); In re 2001 Redistricting Cases, 44 P.3d 141, 145-46 (Alaska 2002); Hickel v. Southeast Conference, 846 P.2d 38, 46-47 (Alaska 1992); Kenai Peninsula Borough v. State, 743 P.2d 1352, 1361-65 (Alaska 1987)] In making these decisions, the commission may consider local government boundaries, and should use “drainage and other geographic features” to describe districts wherever possible. [Alaska Const. art. VI, § 6Kenai Peninsula Borough v. State, 743 P.2d 1352 (Alaska 1987)]  Finally, state legislative districts must be nested, so that one Senate district is composed of two House districts. [Alaska Const. art. VI, § 6]

2010 cycle

Alaska’s commission issued its legislative maps on June 13, 2011; the maps were precleared on Oct. 11, 2011.  The maps were challenged in court, and on Mar. 14, 2012, the Alaska Supreme Court rejected the maps based on the state’s unique process: the commission had not first drawn a map considering only state criteria, before adjusting the map (if necessary) to comply with the Voting Rights Act. [In re 2011 Redistricting Cases, 274 P.3d 466 (Alaska 2012)]

The commission issued a new plan on Apr. 5, 2011; a trial court rejected that plan on Apr. 20, 2011, but on May 22, 2011, the Alaska Supreme Court approved the plan for interim use in 2012, expressing concern that it would be difficult to redraw the plan in time to have it precleared.  The interim plan was precleared on June 27, 2012. [In re 2011 Redistricting Cases, 282 P.3d 306 (Alaska 2012)]

That Apr. 5 plan was ultimately rejected on Dec. 28, 2011, by the Alaska Supreme Court for failure to abide by the state’s unique process, and returned to the commission once again.  The commission issued a third plan on July 14, 2013.  Court challenges to this latter map were not successful.  [In re 2011 Redistricting Cases, Case No. 4FA-11-2209CI, 2013 WL 6074059 (Alaska Super. Ct., Fairbanks N. Star Borough Nov. 18, 2013)]

2000 cycle

Alaska’s commission first drew lines that were struck down by the state Supreme Court, largely on compactness and equal population grounds. [In re 2001 Redistricting Cases, 44 P.3d 141 (Alaska 2002)]

The commission approved a second plan on Apr. 25, 2002, which was upheld by the state Supreme Court, and precleared on June 11, 2002. [In re 2001 Redistricting Cases, 47 P.3d 1089 (Alaska 2002)]

Redistricting Cases in Alaska

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Alaska | State Trial | State Supreme | State Upper | State Lower
In Re 2011 Redistricting Cases
A state court challenge to state legislative plan
Last Updated Apr 11, 2014
Case Number

(Originally filed as Riley v. Alaska Redistricting Board) No. 4fa-11-02209ci; S-14441 (State Sup. Ct. I); S-14721 (State Sup. Ct. II); S-15201 (State Sup. Ct. III)

Cycle 2010
Alaska | Federal Trial | Process
Alaska v. Holder
Federal court constitutional challenge to the sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Last Updated Oct 3, 2013
Case Number

No. 1:12-cv-01376

Cycle 2010
Alaska | State Trial | State Upper | State Lower
Alaska Democratic Party v. Alaska Redistricting Board
A state court challenge to state legislative plan
Last Updated Aug 28, 2013
Case Number

No. 4fa-13-02435ci

Cycle 2010
Alaska | Federal Trial | State Upper | State Lower
Samuelsen v. Treadwell
A federal challenge to Alaska's 2012 interim legislative plan without preclearance
Last Updated Jun 27, 2012
Case Number

No. 3:12-cv-00118

Cycle 2010
Alaska | State Trial | State Upper | State Lower
Fairbanks North Star Borough v. Alaska Redistricting Board
A state court challenge to state legislative plan
Last Updated Jul 26, 2011
Case Number

No. 4FA-11-02213ci (initial case number); No.  4FA-11-02209ci (consolidated case number)

Cycle 2010
Alaska | State Trial | State Lower
City of Petersburg v. Alaska
A state court challenge to state legislative plan
Last Updated Jul 26, 2011
Case Number

No. 1JU-11-00782CI (initial case number);  No. 4fa-11-02209ci (consolidated case number)  

Cycle 2010