Alaska redistricting focuses on Legislature

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by Your Alaska Link News Team

The redistricting process has a greater impact on state legislative races in Alaska than it does congressional races.

Alaska, with an estimated population of about 735,000 people, has just one congressman, and Republican Rep. Don Young has held the seat since winning a special election in 1973. He is seeking re-election later this year.

Alaska voters amended the state constitution in 1998 to change the composition and powers of the redistricting board. It resulted in the state moving from a system in which the governor chose a board to advise him to one in which the governor chooses two members, the presiding officers of the Alaska House and Senate choose one and the chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court chooses one.

The idea was to create a more independent board, but there have been periodic complaints about political influence and lawsuits over how some districts were drawn.

Two minority House Democrats have proposed another constitutional change - to have three members each from the two largest political parties in the state and one unaffiliated member. That proposal has not gained any traction.

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