May 11, 2010
Representing Rural Alaskans
This November Alaskans will have the chance to vote to add 6 more legislators to Alaska's house and Senate. The size of Alaska's population is twice as large as it was when Alaska was made a state, but the number of legislators has never been changed. The purpose of the amendment is not necessarily to address the change in the size of the population, but rather the distribution of the population. An estimated 80% of Alaska's population resides in 6 major urban areas, and this trend of urban migration has stretched district boundaries to extreme sizes, decreasing the effectiveness of representation. It is unknown at this time whether or not passing the amendment will increase the political power of rural areas, but it should at least result in more accurate representation of rural populations. The power issue will be decided by the next reapportionment commission, and it will be interesting to see what they decide. One way or another, the decisions will be influenced by social ideologies of rurality. Perhaps urban voters will choose not to increase the size of the legislature; being the dominant group, they may not be concerned by distorted rural districts because they don't have to know or care. Perhaps it will pass, and then reapportionment will give more relative power to rural voters because we hold a romantic value towards rural areas. Either way, social ideologies are at work and affecting the lives of rural Alaskans. And don't forget to vote!