Alaska legislative districts adjusted in response to 2020 Census

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 4:57 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Every 10 years, political districts throughout Alaska are remapped as the U.S. Census Bureau provides updated population figures for the state.

This year, the Alaska Redistricting Board (ARB) is tasked with dividing the state of Alaska into 40 State House districts using data from the 2020 U.S. Census

These districts have to be of nearly equal population, and must be “compact, contiguous and socioeconomically integrated,” said John Binkley, Chair of the ARB.

Each house district is then combined with one adjoining district to create 20 Senate seats. “There’s over 28,500 individual census blocks that we get for Alaska,” Binkley continued, “and we have to assemble those like Legos, so to speak.”

According to Binkley, disagreements are part of the process. “There’s numerous ways, hundreds of ways you can do [redistricting], and everybody’s got a different idea - every community, board members have different ideas.”

The board was formed in August of 2020. Binkley explained, “The Governor appoints two of the board members, the President of the Senate appoints one of the board members, the Speaker of the House one of the board members, and the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court appoints one of the members.”

The board received results from the 2020 U.S. Census a year later. “Once we had that, then a time clock started,” Binkley said, “and from that receipt of the census data, we had, really, 90 days to produce a final plan.”

Redistricting has brought changes to how districts in the Interior are labeled.

In the 2020 elections, the State House districts representing the Fairbanks North Star Borough were numbered 1 through 6. For the 2022 elections, those seats are now 31 through 36.

For the State Senate, what used to be Seats A, B and C are now labeled P, Q and R respectively.

While Alaska gained 23,000 residents since 2010, Binkley said, “Within the interior, we’ve actually dropped population.”

Because of this change, about 4,000 people from the borough were moved into a neighboring election district.

Binkley says the process of redistricting isn’t necessarily over. “Every redistricting plan since statehood has been challenged in the courts. You can’t satisfy everybody.”

Starting on Thursday, November 18th, members of the public have 30 days to file litigation if they disagree with the new districts in Alaska.

More information can be found here.

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