Voting map submitted, language lawsuit filed
The Alaska Redistricting Board approved a new legislative district plan on July 14. Though not in reference to the new plan, a suit was filed in the U.S. District Court last week charging that the State of Alaska was not providing adequate service to non English speaking voters.
Voting districts are drawn following the national census every 10 years. The Alaska Redistricting Board submitted a plan last year that was used in the elections, but lawsuits were filed regarding and plan and the Alaska Supreme Court ordered the board to submit a plan that complied with state guidelines. This year the board reconvened and drew a new map that it approved on July 14. The final plan is turned over was the Division of Elections and barring objections filed in court, the new districts go into effect for the 2014 elections.
The arrangement of districts in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region change quite a bit from the districts used in the 2012 election. No district reaches from the Bering Sea to Fairbanks. Gone is the senate district that spanned from Kodiak to Toksook Bay. With the proposed map Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel), along with three other senators, would run for election again in 2014, rather than the usual four-year term, according to alaskapublic.org.
On Friday, two Yup’ik speakers and two tribal organizations filed a lawsuit accusing state election officials of failing to provide language assistance at voting polls as mandated by federal law, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
The lawsuit, filed by the Native American Rights Fund in the U.S. District Court in Anchorage, contends that the state violates the federal Voting Rights Act by not providing ballots and instructions for speakers of Yup’ik and the Cup’ik dialect. The suit asserts that the failure to offer language assistance seems to have suppressed voter turnout of the area’s Natives.