Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/04/2001 01:10 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 193 - MODIFIED BLANKET PRIMARY ELECTION                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2078                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG announced  that the next order  of business before                                                               
the committee  would be HOUSE BILL  NO. 193, "An Act  relating to                                                               
the  primary  election; and  providing  for  an effective  date."                                                               
[Before the committee was CSHB 193(STA).]                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  said  he  had   prepared  a  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS), version 22-GH1089\J,  Kurtz, 4/4/01 (Version J),                                                               
which  has  substantive   differences,  and  that  Representative                                                               
Kookesh had prepared two amendments.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   spoke  in   favor  of   CSHB  193(STA).                                                               
[Although  HB 193  was originally  sponsored by  the House  Rules                                                               
Standing  Committee by  request of  the Governor,  Representative                                                               
Coghill had  done extensive work  in creating CSHB  193(STA), and                                                               
had  therefore   provided  additional  background   material  for                                                               
members packets.]   He called  the committee's attention  to page                                                               
2,  Section 3,  [subsections] (a)  and  (b).   He explained  that                                                               
under CSHB 193(STA),  primary elections will be  held through the                                                               
parties.   The  parties  will each  have a  ballot,  and if  they                                                               
choose to allow  anybody in addition to party members  to vote on                                                               
their ballot,  then they can,  but they must submit  their bylaws                                                               
in a timely fashion.  He  described CSHB 193(STA) as very similar                                                               
to  what the  governor had  produced [with  the original  HB 193]                                                               
except for the following:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     They presumed  that they would have  to exclude people,                                                                    
     and  then  they would  have  an  open ballot,  which  I                                                                    
     maintain  is going  in the  wrong direction,  and so  I                                                                    
     said ... I  think the parties should be  able to choose                                                                    
     their candidate and ... [each  party's primary would be                                                                    
     presumed closed to nonmembers] until  such time as they                                                                    
     chose to  open it  to allow other  people; and  I think                                                                    
     that's  being  more  consistent with  what  the  [U.S.]                                                                    
     Supreme Court [ruled].                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL said  he had  a few  quotations he  would                                                               
like  to put  on  the record.    He noted  that  he believed  the                                                               
Supreme  Court  was  trying  to  give  the  parties  the  primary                                                               
responsibility for  selecting their  candidates and also  to give                                                               
them  the choice  of who  is able  to vote  within their  primary                                                               
elections.   He said  he thought that  CSHB 193(STA)  would align                                                               
best with that thinking.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1936                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  paraphrased from  California  Democratic                                                             
Party v. Jones [Syllabus]:                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     In  no area  is  the political  association's right  to                                                                    
     exclude more important  than in its candidate-selection                                                                    
     process.   That  process often  determines the  party's                                                                    
     positions on  significant public policy issues,  and it                                                                    
     is the  nominee who  is the party's  ambassador charged                                                                    
     with winning the general electorate over to its views.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL   also   paraphrased   from   California                                                             
Democratic Party v. Jones [Opinion of the Court]:                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     There is  simply no substitute for  a party's selecting                                                                    
     its own candidates.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL explained that  with CSHB 193(STA), he was                                                               
trying to  say that  parties are  assumed to  have that  right of                                                               
association.  If  they choose to invite others in,  then they can                                                               
do  so by  way of  petition.   Whether or  not to  include others                                                               
would be a decision within the party.  He said:                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     I think it would be wrong for  us as a state to say you                                                                    
     must have an  open ballot, and then exclude  people.  I                                                                    
     think  it  would be  going  directly  against what  the                                                                    
     Supreme  Court   said  on  the   right  to   that  free                                                                    
     association,  [because] we  would  be  forcing them  to                                                                    
     open,  rather than  close, their  primary.   But if  we                                                                    
     allowed  them  the  legal  opportunity  to  open  their                                                                    
     primary election,  then we're  well within  our limits,                                                                    
     and the  party then makes  that decision.  And  I think                                                                    
     we should let it rest at the party [level].                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL noted  that  CSHB  193(STA) included  the                                                               
September 1  deadline recommended  by the [Primary  Election Task                                                               
Force ("Task  Force")].   He summarized the  main points  of CSHB
193(STA) as:   normally  closed [party  primaries], a  ballot for                                                               
each  party, and  inclusion  of those  not  registered with  that                                                               
party.   He said he  thought that  CSHB 193(STA) was  good policy                                                               
and in keeping with what the  U.S. Supreme Court said.  He quoted                                                               
from  California  Democratic  Party  v.  Jones  [Opinion  of  the                                                             
Court]:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     ... the  Court has recognized that  the First Amendment                                                                    
     protects "the  freedom to join together  in furtherance                                                                    
     of  common  political  beliefs," [Tashjian,  supra,  at                                                                
     214-215],  which "necessarily  presupposes the  freedom                                                                    
     to identify the people who constitute the association,                                                                     
     and to limit the association to those people only" [La                                                                   
     Follette, 450 U.S., at 122].                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1805                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said he thought  it would be  contrary to                                                               
that [statement  from the court  opinion] for the state  to force                                                               
an open [primary]  ballot upon [the political parties].   He also                                                               
paraphrased from  California Democratic  Party v.  Jones [Opinion                                                             
of the Court]:                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
       ... a corollary of the right to association is the                                                                       
     right not to associate.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Thus,  if parties  are  given  the right  to  include people,  it                                                               
follows that  parties also  have the  right to  stay closed.   He                                                               
again  paraphrased  from  California Democratic  Party  v.  Jones                                                             
[Opinion of the Court]:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     There is simply no substitute for a party's selecting                                                                      
     its own candidates.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL said  that the  whole idea  of a  primary                                                               
election is to let parties put  forward their own candidates.  He                                                               
acknowledged  that in  Alaska,  many people  have  chosen not  to                                                               
affiliate with  a party, but he  said he thought that  was partly                                                               
because the  state allows [undeclared and  nonpartisan voters] to                                                               
participate in  determining a  party's nominee.   "We've  got the                                                               
cart before  the horse here  in Alaska," he  said.  And  while he                                                               
acknowledged that  if parties stay  closed, members  would become                                                               
"purists," he  said he believed  that at that point,  the parties                                                               
would  be  enlivened  and  thus  bring forth  a  better  mix  [of                                                               
candidates] for Alaska.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1737                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  recommended  reading  the  U.S.  Supreme                                                               
Court  ruling  that  struck down  California's  Proposition  198,                                                               
which  changed  California's  partisan   primary  from  a  closed                                                               
primary to a blanket primary.   The CSHB 193(STA) version is more                                                               
consistent with  [the U.S.  Supreme Court]  decision than  is the                                                               
governor's original HB 193, he said.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG clarified  that Version J actually  agrees in very                                                               
large  part with  Representative  Coghill in  terms of  approach,                                                               
with one major exception.  That  exception is found in Section 2;                                                               
Version J would  have an "opt out" provision  for nonpartisan and                                                               
undeclared  voters,  whereas  CSHB   193(STA)  has  an  "opt  in"                                                               
provision.  He said at issue  was the default mechanism.  He said                                                               
he believes  that all political  parties should, via  statute, be                                                               
able  to invite  the  undeclared and  independent  voters of  the                                                               
state to  participate in their  primary without taking  an active                                                               
step.  By  contrast, CSHB 193(STA) requires that a  party take an                                                               
active  step  to  invite  people  in.   "I  think  we  should  be                                                               
inclusive  to  start  with  and not  exclusive,  and  that's  the                                                               
distinction," he concluded.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES agreed  with Representative  Coghill.   She                                                               
summarized  his position  as:   the U.S.  Supreme Court  decision                                                               
says parties  have a right  to choose who  can vote for  them, so                                                               
the parties  should have that  choice and  make that choice.   By                                                               
contrast,   she  said,   Chair  Rokeberg   is  saying   that  the                                                               
legislature  is going  to make  the  choice that  every voter  is                                                               
included  in the  primary,  and  then the  parties  have to  take                                                               
action  if they  do not  want everyone  included.   She said  she                                                               
thought the latter  course was automatically making  a choice for                                                               
the parties.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1574                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG disagreed  with that analysis.  "I  think it still                                                               
gives the  party the right to  make the choice," he  said.  "It's                                                               
just  where we  start from,  and what  is the  default ...."   He                                                               
suggested that  the parties  in Alaska should  be forced  to take                                                               
overt action to exclude people,  rather than to take overt action                                                               
to include them.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  responded,  "I believe  that  the  Supreme                                                               
Court decision  said that  we as  ... parties  have the  right to                                                               
choose our  own candidates.  If  we want to let  other people in,                                                               
we have  a right to  do that.   You're taking the  other approach                                                               
that  ... a  state  ...[has] a  right to  include  people and  so                                                               
therefore  ... [the  parties]  have to  do  something to  exclude                                                               
them."  She  offered that her interpretation of  the U.S. Supreme                                                               
Court's  decision  was that  [parties]  had  to so  something  if                                                               
[parties] wanted to include more than [party members].                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL,   to  clarify   a  point,   quoted  from                                                               
California Democratic Party v. Jones, Kennedy, J., concurring:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     A political  party might be  better served  by allowing                                                                    
     blanket primaries  as a means of  nominating candidates                                                                    
     with  a broader  appeal.   Under the  First Amendment's                                                                    
     guarantee of speech through free association, however,                                                                     
     this is an issue for the party to resolve, not for the                                                                     
     State.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1472                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KATHRYN KURTZ,  Attorney, Legislative Legal  Counsel, Legislative                                                               
Legal  and Research  Services, Legislative  Affairs Agency,  said                                                               
she  thinks  both   versions  solve  the  big   problem  that  is                                                               
identified in  the Jones decision,  which is that  parties cannot                                                             
be forced to  associate with people who don't  share the parties'                                                               
political beliefs.   These two  drafts take  different approaches                                                               
to getting parties  out of that situation  of forced association,                                                               
but she does not think  the Supreme Court's decision prescribes a                                                               
particular solution to the problem.   "I think you have options,"                                                               
she  said.   "I think  both of  these address  the constitutional                                                               
problem that we currently have in the statute."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said the difference  between prescription                                                               
and direction is obvious.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH asked Ms. Kurtz  to clarify what she meant                                                               
by the two different versions.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ said the ones she  was talking about were CSHB 193(STA)                                                               
and [Version  J].  The governor's  [original HB 193] takes  yet a                                                               
different  approach.    She  said  she  thought  that  all  three                                                               
[versions]  provide ways  in  which  a party  can  choose not  to                                                               
associate with people who don't  share its political beliefs, and                                                               
all three of them get at the major problem.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH said  he had  brought it  up because  Ms.                                                               
Kurtz had not  mentioned the governor's [original HB  193] and he                                                               
wanted  to make  sure  that that  was included  in  the group  of                                                               
alternatives she thought were acceptable.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1313                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
AVRUM GROSS,  Chair, Primary Election Task  Force ("Task Force"),                                                               
explained  that  the  Task  Force was  asked  by  the  Lieutenant                                                               
Governor to give the legislature something  to work on.  The Task                                                               
Force  was made  up of  all the  living lieutenant  governors and                                                               
former attorneys general.   The intent was to reduce  some of the                                                               
debate.   He  also explained  that the  Task Force  had tried  to                                                               
adhere as closely as possible  to present law, which provides for                                                               
a blanket primary.   In a blanket primary, all  of the candidates                                                               
are  listed  on  the  ballot  and  anyone  can  vote  for  anyone                                                               
regardless of party  affiliation.  The U.S. Supreme  Court in the                                                               
Jones  case decided  that a  state that  imposed that  kind of  a                                                             
ballot on parties was interfering  with political parties' rights                                                               
of association.  The court said  that if a political party wished                                                               
to limit the people who could  participate in its primary, it had                                                               
the right to do so.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS  said the  first reason [the  Task Force]  started with                                                               
the blanket primary  was because that was in Alaska  law, and the                                                               
Task Force  was trying  to vary  it as little  as possible.   The                                                               
second reason  is a  public policy  reason.   It's one  thing for                                                               
parties to  close the ballot;  it's another thing for  the state,                                                               
which  has set  up  a primary  election system  as  the means  of                                                               
producing  candidates  for  a  general  election,  to  close  the                                                               
system.  If parties decide that  they want to exclude people from                                                               
voting  in their  primaries, they  have every  right to  do that.                                                               
But, he  said, it seemed to  him that it would  require some sort                                                               
of  an affirmative  act by  the  party, rather  than the  state's                                                               
saying  nobody but  party members  can participate  in a  primary                                                               
election.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1135                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS  said that is  the fundamental difference  between CSHB
193(STA) and the recommendations of the  Task Force.  Both get to                                                               
the  same point,  but [the  original HB  193] ensures  that if  a                                                               
party  takes  no  action,  the   maximum  number  of  people  may                                                               
participate, thereby  encouraging maximum voter  participation in                                                               
elections.   Mr.  Gross observed  that there  doesn't seem  to be                                                               
much  discussion over  the deadlines  for parties  to notify  the                                                               
lieutenant  governor  of their  choices,  or  for individuals  to                                                               
indicate their party affiliation.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said she would  prefer a system in which the                                                               
political parties had to say, "I  want to include," or "I want to                                                               
exclude."   Beyond that, she  would rather not have  primaries at                                                               
all and just leave  it to the parties to figure  out how they are                                                               
going to choose their candidates;  however, she didn't think that                                                               
option was  available.   She asked  Mr. Gross  to comment  on her                                                               
position.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS  noted that in the  only known instance, a  major party                                                               
(the Republican Party) last year,  by allowing only party members                                                               
and independents  to participate  in its  primary, had  not shown                                                               
any  reluctance to  exclude people.    The Task  Force had  heard                                                               
testimony from  all of  the political  parties, and  almost every                                                               
one  of them  made it  clear that  they would  choose to  exclude                                                               
members of other parties, particularly  if those parties excluded                                                               
them.   Small  parties were  inclined to  let only  party members                                                               
participate  because   they  were  afraid  of   being  completely                                                               
overwhelmed.  However,  he said, no one who  testified before the                                                               
Task  Force raised  the argument  that Representative  Coghill is                                                               
making -  which is  not to say  that it is  not a  good argument,                                                               
simply that  it was  not raised  - that having  to rule  out some                                                               
people  would put  the parties  under some  pressure.   Mr. Gross                                                               
said he  had seen no  evidence to  indicate that anyone  would be                                                               
uncomfortable  or would  find it  difficult to  "opt out."   That                                                               
being the  case, the  Task Force decided  to leave  the primaries                                                               
open and let the parties limit participation as they saw fit.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0839                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER  noted that  voter turnout in  last summer's                                                               
primary election  was "pathetic," and  said people had  told him,                                                               
"It's because of  your [Republican] party, Kevin,  that we didn't                                                               
participate."  He  asked Mr. Gross which,  version [CSHB 193(STA)                                                               
or Version J] would maximize voter participation.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS replied:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Let  me  answer  that  by suggesting  there  are  three                                                                    
     levels.  The  first [level] was the  original [HB 193],                                                                    
     ... which  started off with everybody  having a blanket                                                                    
     primary  ballot, and  the parties  reducing it  as they                                                                    
     saw fit.   The  second level is  [Version J],  in which                                                                    
     ... party candidates run on  a ballot for which members                                                                    
     of  that party  and independents  may vote  ... (unless                                                                    
     parties open it further ....)   The third level down is                                                                    
     ... CSHB 193(STA), which says  that the only people who                                                                    
     can vote in primary  elections for a party's candidates                                                                    
     are ...  registered members [of  that party],  and then                                                                    
     the  parties  can  open  it  up  beyond  that  ...  [to                                                                    
     independents,   or   beyond,   to  members   of   other                                                                    
     parties]....   All  [versions] satisfy  the Jones  case                                                                  
     because they  allow the parties to  make decisions ....                                                                    
     The  question  [is] of  whether  parties  have to  take                                                                    
     affirmative actions to open, or close.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER asked  if [the  procedure outlined  in CSHB
193(STA)] was the same as what occurred last summer.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS  said no.   Last  summer, Independents  and Republicans                                                               
were  allowed  to vote  in  the  Republican  primary.   The  CSHB
193(STA)  version says  that only  party members  would get  that                                                               
party's ballot  automatically, and then  the party would  have to                                                               
affirmatively act to open it up to Independents.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG pointed  out that both [CSHB  193(STA) and Version                                                               
J] would differ from last year's  primary in that there would not                                                               
be  an open  or  "other"  ballot; there  would  just  be a  party                                                               
ballot.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS said the Task Force  also had been concerned about last                                                               
year's  voter  participation's  being  so dismal,  "and  I  think                                                               
that's another  thing that motivated  us to start with  a blanket                                                               
primary."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL   noted    that   there   were   several                                                               
circumstances   around  the   last   primary   that  could   have                                                               
contributed to  the dismal turnout.   He mentioned  the emergency                                                               
regulations, a  great deal of  press coverage, a court  case, and                                                               
many  uncontested  races, saying  there  were  too many  dynamics                                                               
involved to interpret the cause.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0588                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said although  she believes there should not                                                               
be  primary  elections  for  all  races,  there  is  an  entirely                                                               
different  dynamic operating  in  the gubernatorial  race.   "You                                                               
have a  statewide vote  and a  limited amount  of time  for those                                                               
candidates to  get around to the  entire state to be  chosen, and                                                               
so if  you were  to have  any other kind  of a  system such  as a                                                               
convention or a  caucus (which is the one I  would prefer), you'd                                                               
never be able to get a good feel,  it would be easy to stack it,"                                                               
she said.  She asked if it  would be legal to have primaries just                                                               
for gubernatorial candidates.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS said he guessed [the state] probably could do that.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  continued,  "So,  we'd only  be  having  a                                                               
primary every four years."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS said the reason the  Task Force tried to stick as close                                                               
as  it  could  to  existing  law  was  because  everybody  has  a                                                               
different view about how to  nominate candidates.  In recognition                                                               
of that  and the fact  that there is  an election coming  up next                                                               
year, the  Task Force was trying  to narrow the choices.   But it                                                               
would be possible to do an  infinite variety of things as long as                                                               
they were reasonable and fair to all candidates.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   JAMES  said   her   experience  indicates   that                                                               
intensive efforts within  a precinct will get more  people out to                                                               
vote, and that is what caucuses would do.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG asked  Mr. Gross to take off his  "Task Force hat"                                                               
and  give his  personal opinion  as a  long-time observer  of the                                                               
Alaskan political milieu.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS said:                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     I was  perfectly content with  the blanket primary.   I                                                                    
     realize that  there are people who  feel quite strongly                                                                    
     that the  parties were not  nominating people  who were                                                                    
     pure enough for  them, ... but I always  could tell the                                                                    
     difference.    It seemed  to  me  that the  Republicans                                                                    
     nominated people  [whom] I  could pretty  well identify                                                                    
     as  Republicans, and  the  Democrats  always seemed  to                                                                    
     nominate the people [whom]  I could reasonably identify                                                                    
     as  Democrats, and  whereas I  may have  disagreed with                                                                    
     the voters'  choice from  time to  time, I  thought the                                                                    
     system  worked  reasonably  well in  terms  of  getting                                                                    
     different views in  front of the voters.   So [I think]                                                                    
     a lot of the fears that  people have ... about this are                                                                    
     exaggerated.  So  to the extent that  the Supreme Court                                                                    
     ruled that  parties could have  a greater  control over                                                                    
     the election  process than they  had had in the  past -                                                                    
     because  this is  ... a  state  election process  we're                                                                    
     talking about ... - I  believe we should recognize [the                                                                    
     U.S. Supreme Court  ruling], ... but at  the same time,                                                                    
     I would not  vary the existing system any  more than we                                                                    
     had to.  That's my own personal view.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0264                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTIAN  WARREN,  Chairman,   Election  Committee,  Libertarian                                                               
Party,   testified   by   teleconference.      He   agreed   with                                                               
Representative  Coghill that  the  open ballot  is  going in  the                                                               
wrong direction.   He also agreed that the salient  point is that                                                               
the parties have  the right to exclude.  He  asked if the [Alaska                                                               
State] Constitution  mandates a primary, and  asked the committee                                                               
to consider  that Alaska  was recognized as  a state  through the                                                               
agency  of a  constitutional  convention.   Mr.  Warren said  the                                                               
mainline parties  select their  presidential aspirants  through a                                                               
straw poll, going from caucus  to state convention, and selecting                                                               
candidates  via  convention  is a  faithful  application  of  the                                                               
principles  of  republican  government and  follows  Mr.  Gross's                                                               
advice  about adhering  as closely  as possible  to present  law.                                                               
Mr.   Warren  also   agreed  with   Representative  James   about                                                               
eliminating primaries.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. WARREN  noted that Washington  State is in a  similar dilemma                                                               
is attempting to  restructure its primaries, and he  also noted a                                                               
recent Associated  Press story reporting that  Washington's House                                                               
Select Committee  on Elections had  written a bill  providing for                                                               
state  conventions  for major  parties.    At those  conventions,                                                               
endorsements  would  be  made  for   partisan  offices,  and  the                                                               
endorsed candidates'  names placed  on the  ballot automatically,                                                               
with no  need for  declaration.   He spoke  in favor  of choosing                                                               
candidates  through conventions,  with  participation limited  to                                                               
party members only, saying he  thinks that upholds the principles                                                               
of  the   Jones  decision  and   is  congruent   with  republican                                                             
government.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 01-56, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG  asked Mr.  Warren if  he understood  the proposed                                                               
CS, Version J.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. WARREN  explained that he  was working from the  premise that                                                               
the  U.S.   Supreme  Court  decision   was  not   a  prescriptive                                                               
[solution]  but a  proscriptive  [solution],  with the  intention                                                               
being to  limit the interference of  the state.  He  said that he                                                               
thought the  place to start  was with the principle  that parties                                                               
have the right to exclude, and then take it from there.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG responded  that there was no  question that either                                                               
of the alternatives being discussed provides that right.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. WARREN  countered that the  question was one of  the starting                                                               
point.   One  alternative  assumes that  the  parties are  active                                                               
participants  in their  own affairs,  and that  they can  take it                                                               
upon themselves  to find  out what  suits them  best.   The other                                                               
alternative assumes  that [the parties]  are passive  agents that                                                               
need to be  directed by a "higher source,"  because [the parties]                                                               
are in flux and need  intermittent, if not constant, intervention                                                               
by the  state to provide guidance  in their decisions.   He added                                                               
that   [the  Libertarian   Party]  thought   the  latter   was  a                                                               
paternalistic way of viewing the situation.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG  asked Mr.  Warren if  he was  an official  of the                                                               
Libertarian Party.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WARREN  explained   that  he  was  chair   of  the  election                                                               
committee,  and that  [any solution]  that  is worked  out is  of                                                               
great interest  to [the  Libertarian Party].   He  also explained                                                               
that  he   was  speaking   as  a   representative  of   the  [the                                                               
Libertarian] Party;  the executive  committee had  instructed him                                                               
to attempt  to convince [the House  Judiciary Standing Committee]                                                               
of the  desirability of having  caucuses and conventions  in lieu                                                               
of  primaries.   He  added  that  because  of the  special  rules                                                               
regarding  the election  of  the governor,  he  would accept  the                                                               
proposal voiced by  Representative James to have  a primary every                                                               
four years  exclusively for  governor, and the  rest of  the time                                                               
candidates could  be managed  through a  convention.   Mr. Warren                                                               
concluded his  remarks with the following  observation:  although                                                               
Mr. Gross  argued that his  approach for blanket  primaries would                                                               
encourage greater  [voter] turnout, that rational  was explicitly                                                               
rejected by the [U.S. Supreme]  Court, which said that neither in                                                               
the  interest  of  privacy, increased  turnout,  greater  choice,                                                               
greater  fairness, voter  alienation,  expansion beyond  partisan                                                               
thresholds, nor better representation  was there a valid rational                                                               
for blanket primaries.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0355                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SARAH  FELIX, Assistant  Attorney  General, Governmental  Affairs                                                               
Section, Civil Division (Juneau),  Department of Law (DOL), noted                                                               
that she had  just received Version J.  She  said she wondered if                                                               
the committee  - via  Version J -  intended that  the "nominating                                                               
petition candidates" (the candidates  who are not affiliated with                                                               
a  political party)  would appear  on the  primary ballot  of the                                                               
political parties.   She added  that she  did not see  that issue                                                               
addressed in  Version J, and she  needed to know if  that was the                                                               
intent in order  to implement that type of provision.   She noted                                                               
that under current law, nominating  petition candidates appear on                                                               
the primary election ballot.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG said that if  Ms. Felix meant individuals who file                                                               
for office  as nonpartisan or  undeclared candidates, he  did not                                                               
intend for the  names of those individuals to appear  if they did                                                               
not "draw a party."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES  added that she  did not see any  reason [to                                                               
have those names appear].                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   asked  if,   historically,  nonpartisan                                                               
candidates have appeared on primary [ballots].                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  FELIX responded  that this  had  occurred, and  was in  fact                                                               
required by existing law.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  commented that  he  thought  that same  question                                                               
should be applicable to both Version J and CSHB 193(STA).                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. FELIX  said that she  had assumed  from her reading  of [CSHB
193(STA)]  that  those candidates  would  appear  on the  ballots                                                               
provided for in that bill version.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL added that  he thought [CSHB 193(STA)] was                                                               
very clear;  those names  would not appear  unless included  in a                                                               
partisan ballot.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. FELIX said  it seemed to her that [CSHB  193(STA)] included a                                                               
provision to place  those names on the ballot,  and that [Version                                                               
J] seemed  different to  her in that  it precluded  placing those                                                               
names  on the  ballot.   [She referenced  language in  Version J,                                                               
Section 4, page  3, lines 6-7, which is identical  to language in                                                               
CSHB 193(STA), Section  4, page 2, line 31, and  page 3, line 1.]                                                               
She added  that it was a  technical point that she  thought could                                                               
be fixed.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0560                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ agreed  with Ms. Felix that that point  could be fixed,                                                               
and she added that it should be fixed for clarity.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES reiterated  that she did not  see any reason                                                               
to  have the  [names of  nominating petition  candidates] on  the                                                               
primary ballot.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH  offered  that   the  suggestion  was  to                                                               
clarify  in   the  legislation  whether  those   names  would  be                                                               
included.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   said  he  agreed  that   it  should  be                                                               
clarified that those  names would not be included  on the ballot.                                                               
He paraphrased again from [California  Democratic Party v. Jones,                                                             
Opinion of the Court]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The  voter  who  feels himself  disenfranchised  should                                                                    
     simply join  the party.   That  may put  him to  a hard                                                                    
     choice, but it is  not a state-imposed restriction upon                                                                    
     his  freedom of  association, whereas  compelling party                                                                    
     members to accept  his selection of their  nominee is a                                                                    
     state-imposed restriction upon theirs.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
He added  that he thought  the parties  should have the  right to                                                               
say [who  is on their ballots],  and it is wrong  [for the state]                                                               
to   impose   any   restrictions  upon   parties   unless   those                                                               
restrictions are self-imposed.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0698                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  announced  that  public  testimony  was  closed.                                                               
After  noting that  Representative  Kookesh  had two  amendments,                                                               
Chair  Rokeberg inquired  if both  amendments were  applicable to                                                               
Version J.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH said that he thought they were.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  noted  that the  committee  should  decide                                                               
whether to adopt  Version J as a work draft  before taking up any                                                               
amendments.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0772                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG  made a  motion to  adopt the  proposed CS  for HB
193, version 22-GH1089\J, Kurtz, 4/4/01, as a work draft.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0786                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL objected.    He said  that  in his  view,                                                               
Version J went in the wrong  direction.  He added that he thought                                                               
the committee should go in  the direction of having parties allow                                                               
the inclusion  of other candidates  on their primary  ballots via                                                               
an affirmative action.   He opined that to do  otherwise would be                                                               
bad political  policy, bad public  policy, and bad  legal policy,                                                               
and  would go  in the  wrong  direction from  the [U.S.]  Supreme                                                               
Court ruling.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   JAMES  added   that   while   she  agreed   with                                                               
Representative  Coghill, she  could  accept either  Version J  or                                                               
CSHB 193(STA), but would not accept the original HB 193.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG, in defense of  Version J, suggested that the poor                                                               
turnout in  last year's primary  election was a direct  result of                                                               
the  [U.S. Supreme  Court decision]  that raised  this particular                                                               
issue.  Speaking as a candidate  in the 1992 primary election, he                                                               
surmised that the  vast majority of people in  the state resented                                                               
closure of the primary.  He added  that as a new candidate he was                                                               
reluctant to  knock on many  doors because of poor  reception due                                                               
to the closure of the primary.   He also said that he thought the                                                               
"body  politic"  of  Alaska  rejected   the  concept  [of  closed                                                               
primaries].  He noted that he  was putting himself on the side of                                                               
the Primary  Election Task Force  by offering [with Version  J] a                                                               
position  of  openness as  the  default  with regard  to  primary                                                               
election ballots.   He  said that because  he believed  that both                                                               
case  law  and the  U.S.  Supreme  Court  allowed it,  he  wanted                                                               
primary ballots  to be inclusive  for nonpartisan  and undeclared                                                               
voters,  which make  up in  excess  of 50  percent of  registered                                                               
Alaskan voters.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES   said  she  understood   Chair  Rokeberg's                                                               
position on that issue and she  agreed that that was the attitude                                                               
of the  public.  She  suggested, however, "If that's  a direction                                                               
we want to  go in, then maybe  we should file as 'N's  or use our                                                               
'I's  and let  all  those  people support  us,  that  are in  our                                                               
group."                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  noted  further  that both  Version  J  and  CSHB
193(STA) allow the party to  be completely exclusive.  The nuance                                                               
is  the point  at which  exclusion starts.   He  said he  did not                                                               
disagree with  the opinion  of either  the [U.S.  Supreme] Court,                                                               
the  Republican  Party, or  most  other  political parties,  that                                                               
parties shall have  the right to exclude if they  so desire; both                                                               
Version J and CSHB 193(STA) embody the right to exclude.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1045                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   MEYER  commented   that  he   agreed  with   the                                                               
statements made by Chair Rokeberg.   He added that during his own                                                               
primary  race,   many  undeclared  [voters],   Independents,  and                                                               
conservative Democrats  would have voted  for him if not  for the                                                               
closed primary.  He also said  that with so many Independents and                                                               
undeclared  [voters]   in  the   state  (and  certainly   in  his                                                               
district),  there  was  a  need for  a  "user  friendly"  system.                                                               
Further,  he said  that he  thought it  would be  easier for  the                                                               
parties to  adjust rather than  ask the  voters to adjust  to the                                                               
parties.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL concluded  that [Version  J] would  force                                                               
"inclusion" on the  party - that is, the party  would be presumed                                                               
open  - unless  the party  specifically chooses  to exclude.   He                                                               
opined that  that was backward;  he said that instead,  he wanted                                                               
to be able to  say to a party that it had a  right to be "purist"                                                               
if it  wished, or  to be  inclusive if so  stated in  the party's                                                               
rules.  With Version J, the  state would be compelling a party to                                                               
include voters who had not had  anything to do with building that                                                               
party.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG  declared, "Absolutely not.   I disagree  with you                                                               
entirely.  The  party has every right to close  the primary under                                                               
both versions."                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES called for the question.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1170                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Kookesh, Meyer, and                                                               
Rokeberg  voted for  the  adoption  of proposed  CS  for HB  193,                                                               
version   22-GH1089\J,   Kurtz,   4/4/01,  as   a   work   draft.                                                               
Representatives James  and Coghill voted against  it.  Therefore,                                                               
Version J was adopted as a work draft by a vote of 3-2.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1188                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH  made  a  motion to  adopt  Amendment  1,                                                               
which,  after being  altered to  conform  to Version  J, read  as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 3,                                                                                                            
     Add  a  new  subsection  "(d) If  a  political  party's                                                                
     bylaws  do  not permit  voters  not  registered with  a                                                                
     political  party or  registered with  another political                                                                
     party to participate in  that political party's primary                                                                
     ballot, all  costs incurred by the  state to administer                                                                
     that  political  party's   primary  election  shall  be                                                                
     reimbursed by that political party"                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH explained  that while  he suspected  that                                                               
Amendment 1 would not  pass, he wanted to have it  on record.  He                                                               
went on to  say, "There is only, in reality,  one political party                                                               
[the Republican  Party] that  is asking for  a closed  primary in                                                               
the state; I have not seen anybody  else step up and ask for one.                                                               
And it is my opinion that if  you want a closed primary, then you                                                               
ought to  pay for it."   He also noted that  in this legislature,                                                               
many individuals have said that  costs to the state will continue                                                               
to  be  cut; thus,  when  looking  at  [the  issue] of  a  closed                                                               
primary, which  is only being  requested by one  political party,                                                               
the cost alone  (last year's closed primary  cost $270,000) would                                                               
cover the cost  of 4.5 Village Public Safety  Officers (VPSOs) in                                                               
rural Alaska.  He said his  intention in offering Amendment 1 was                                                               
to  have  on record  his  recognition  that  funds for  a  closed                                                               
primary could be better spent on other purposes (such as VPSOs).                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1320                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES objected.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1375                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote  was taken.   Representative Kookesh  voted for                                                               
Amendment  1.     Representatives  James,  Coghill,   Meyer,  and                                                               
Rokeberg voted  against it.   Therefore, Amendment 1 failed  by a                                                               
vote of 1-4.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1390                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH  made  a  motion to  adopt  Amendment  2,                                                               
which,  after being  altered to  conform  to Version  J, read  as                                                               
follows:                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 12                                                                                                            
     Delete "not"                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 12, following "writing"                                                                                       
     Delete "or pasting in"                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1392                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES objected.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH explained  that the  reason for  deleting                                                               
"not"  was because  he would  like the  ability to  have write-in                                                               
blanks for the primary election,  and the deletion of "or pasting                                                               
in" was in recognition that pasting  names on a ballot would have                                                               
adverse effects on the "Accu-Vote" machine.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1448                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GAIL   FENUMIAI,  Election   Program   Specialist,  Division   of                                                               
Elections,  Office of  the  Lieutenant  Governor, confirmed  that                                                               
sticking or pasting names on the  ballot would gum up the "reader                                                               
heads" of the Accu-Vote machine.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KOOKESH  further   explained   that  Version   J                                                               
currently  says,   "Blank  spaces  may  not   be  provided",  and                                                               
Amendment  2 would  allow names  to be  written (or  stamped) in,                                                               
although not pasted in, on the ballot.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER  asked Chair Rokeberg why  blank spaces were                                                               
precluded from ballots in Version J.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR    ROKEBERG   suggested    directing   the    question   to                                                               
Representative  Coghill because  that language  in Version  J was                                                               
taken  directly from  CSHB 193(STA)  [which, in  turn, was  taken                                                               
from HB 193].                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ explained  that current statutes do  not allow write-in                                                               
names on  ballots in  the primary election,  just in  the general                                                               
election.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES asked  if  it says  somewhere  else in  the                                                               
election  laws  that write-in  [candidates]  are  not allowed  in                                                               
primaries.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ said  she was not sure if it  appears elsewhere or only                                                               
in the section that is  being repealed and re-enacted by [Version                                                               
J].  It  is complicated because there are a  lot of references to                                                               
write-ins throughout the statutes, so  she did not want to answer                                                               
off the  top of her  head.  "The way  this is would  maintain the                                                               
status quo on write-ins," she said.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1615                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said  she thought the only way  a person can                                                               
get on the primary  ballot now is by filing as  a party member or                                                               
coming  forward with  a petition  signed by  a certain  number of                                                               
voters.   The latter route  is only  for non-party members.   But                                                               
for the general election, she  said she thought anyone, including                                                               
a party member, can get on the ballot by petition.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ said currently, if  a person qualifies by petition, his                                                               
or her  name goes on the  primary election ballot.   A person who                                                               
does  not succeed  in the  primary can  also file  as a  write-in                                                               
candidate in the  general election.  It used to  be the case that                                                               
all the  names of  candidates by petition  just went  straight to                                                               
the general  election ballot, rather  than being in  the primary.                                                               
That is  no longer the  case.  Now  they go  in the primary.   In                                                               
response to a question by  Representative James, she said she did                                                               
not know why that change had been made.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG asked  if  they  would still  be  allowed on  the                                                               
primary ballot under this [Version J].                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ said that is the  question that came up earlier because                                                               
it was unclear.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG remembered that was  to be Conceptual Amendment 3,                                                               
and the committee  would address that issue next.   [Still before                                                               
the committee was the question of Amendment 2.]                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH expressed  continuing  concern about  the                                                               
paste-in part [that Amendment 2 would address].                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  said by  leaving  [that  portion of  Version  J]                                                               
alone, the committee was prohibiting it.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES  said she thought  it might be  necessary to                                                               
come back  and fix  it again  if Amendment 2  were adopted.   She                                                               
said, "I  see absolutely no  reason to  have any candidates  on a                                                               
primary  election   [ballot]  if   they're  not   competing  with                                                               
anybody."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG observed  that Version J reads,  "Blank spaces may                                                               
not be  provided on the ballot  for the writing or  pasting in of                                                               
names."  Thus it was prohibited.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH indicated  he  did not  want to  withdraw                                                               
Amendment 2.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1765                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was  taken.  Representatives Kookesh  and James                                                               
voted  for  Amendment 2.    Representatives  Coghill, Meyer,  and                                                               
Rokeberg voted  against it.   Therefore, Amendment 2 failed  by a                                                               
vote of 2-3.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG concluded,  "So  we have  the  status quo,  where                                                               
we're prohibiting  the writing  in of  names and  'paste-ons,' on                                                               
the primary ballot only."                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KURTZ  confirmed,  "This  is  only  about  primary  election                                                               
ballots, so here we're saying you  can't leave spaces to write in                                                               
or paste in names on the primary ballot."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1778                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG  made a  motion to  adopt Conceptual  Amendment 3,                                                               
"which would  exclude from  any party's ballot  the names  of any                                                               
nonpartisan  or  undeclared  candidates," who  he  surmised  were                                                               
those who had qualified by petition.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES  questioned whether  [those names]  would go                                                               
directly to the general election ballot.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KURTZ said  that used  to  be the  case, but  now [names  of                                                               
nominating  petition  candidates]  go  on  the  primary  election                                                               
ballot.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  said  this committee  wants  to  exclude  [those                                                               
names] entirely.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ  asked, "Is your wish  to exclude them by  putting them                                                               
on the general [election ballot]?"                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1831                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG  said yes, that  the committee wanted  to prohibit                                                               
their names appearing  on any primary ballots.  He  asked if that                                                               
was  the sense  of  the committee.   After  noting  there was  no                                                               
objection, Chair  Rokeberg announced that Conceptual  Amendment 3                                                               
was adopted.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1841                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  moved  to  report CSHB  193,  version  22-                                                               
GH1089\J,  Kurtz,  4/4/01,  as amended,  out  of  committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH objected.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1850                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote was  taken.   Representatives Coghill,  Meyer,                                                               
James, and  Rokeberg voted in  favor of moving CSHB  193, version                                                               
22-GH1089\J, Kurtz,  4/4/01, as amended.   Representative Kookesh                                                               
voted against it.   Therefore, CSHB 193(JUD) was  reported out of                                                               
the House Judiciary Standing Committee by vote of 4-1.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects