In June 2012 NARF filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of group of Alaska Natives against the Alaska Lieutenant Governor and the Director of the Division of Elections in their official capacities. On behalf of the Plaintiffs, NARF is seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Preliminary Injunction (PI) to prevent the State from implementing a new redistricting plan that has not been precleared by the U.S. Department of Justice, as required by the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA).
The State of Alaska has been continuously covered under Section 5 of the VRA since 1975. Under Section 5, any changes in election standards, practices, or procedures must be reviewed and cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before the State of Alaska can implement them. Section 5 is a critical piece of the Voting Rights Act because it allows the Department of Justice to review voting changes to make sure they are not discriminatory before the discrimination actually happens. In April 2012 the Alaska Redistricting Board adopted what it refers to as its “Amended Proclamation Plan,” yet the Board did not submit the Plan to the U.S. Department of Justice until late May 2012. Soon thereafter, the State Division of Elections began implementing the Plan even though it has yet to receive permission from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Oral argument on the TRO was held on June 14, 2012 and Plaintiffs are awaiting a decision.
To read more on the case, see below for initial briefing:
For a radio story discussing the case, click here.