Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120
03/21/2017 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS
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HB 1-ELECTION REGISTRATION AND VOTING 4:56:29 PM CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 1, "An Act relating to absentee voting, voting, and voter registration; relating to early voting locations at which persons may vote absentee ballots; and providing for an effective date." [Before the committee, adopted as a work draft on 3/16/17, was the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 1, Version 30-LS0070\O, Bullard, 3/14/17, referred to as "Version O."] 4:57:03 PM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK stated that the proposed legislation was designed to accomplish the following: provide for same day voter registration; to allow for electronic signature on voter registration documents; ensure that early voting locations are the same and available for every election up until the next redistricting; create an option for permanent absentee voting, which is voting by mail; and change terminology for "absentee in-person voting stations" to "early voting stations". He said that parts of AS 15 needed to be updated to ensure that the voting practices that are currently occurring are in statute. He relayed that currently a person may early vote in-person absentee within  days of an election, and on his/her ballot is a voter registration form allowing him/her to vote early and change his/her voter registration simultaneously. He added that Version O would "extend that all the way down to same-day voter registration." REPRESENTATIVE TUCK paraphrased from the sectional analysis of the committee substitute (CS) for HB 1, which read as follows [original punctuation provided with bolded type indicating new sections]: Section 1: Removes language from AS 15.05.010 that requires a qualified voter to register under AS 15.07 before an election. Section 2: Permits a person registering or reregistering as a voter to apply using an electronic signature. Section 3: instructing the director of the division to determine the form of electronic signature to be used when registering to vote. Section 4: Allows a qualified voter registering on the day of, or within 30 days of an election, to vote a questioned ballot at that election. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK stated that there are only six locations at which a person can early vote and have it count as early voting. He added that there are 101 locations in the State of Alaska at which a person can vote in-person absentee early within  days of the election. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK continued to paraphrase from the sectional analysis, which read as follows [original punctuation provided with bolded type indicating new sections]: Section 5: Amends AS 15.07.070(h) the procedure for registration is amended to clarify the use of a special needs ballot and clarifies that on the voter's certificate on the ballot that registration includes a voters choice to declare a political party, non- partisan or undeclared. NOTE: This is a practice the division of elections already carries out, this is just updating the statutes to reflect their current practice. Section 6: stating that section 15.07.070 includes special needs ballot which is defined under 15.20.072. Special needs voting: A qualified voter with a disability who, because of that disability, is unable to go to a polling place to vote may vote a special needs ballot. Section 7: If a persons voter registration is cancelled under 15.07.130 voter registration list maintenance, and they re-register they shall vote a questioned ballot. Section 8: conforming language for same day voter registration. This amends AS 15.07.090(c) voting after change of name, reregistration to add language that states if a person moved from a new precinct they vote an questioned ballot. Section 9: cleans up language about a voter who is not found on the voter registrar to vote a questioned ballot. Section 10: definition expansion to include special needs ballot. Section 11: Conforms AS 15.07.130(e) to changes made in section 18 of the bill. 5:02:00 PM Section 12: Clarifies privileges of poll watchers in a general election or special election related to ballot propositions. Section 13: adds a new section to AS 15.10.170 appointment and privileges of poll watchers to clarify poll watchers may be designated by prescient party chair, organized group, or candidate. This is the language that was removed in section 12 and made a new subsection. NOTE: this practice is currently being done by the division of elections. Section 14 - 17: relate to questioned ballot procedure and adding a declaration that the voter must sign that the information provided is accurate. Section 18: Renames absentee voting stations "early voting stations." Provides that a location designated as an early voting station will remain an early voting station for subsequent elections unless the location is no longer available for use or the director of the division of elections determines that the location is no longer appropriate. Requires the director to make a determination that a location is no longer appropriate for use as an early voting station available to the public in writing. Section 19-22: Conforms AS 15.20.050 to changes made in Section 18 related to early voting stations. Section 23: allowing voter registration updates through electronic absentee ballot and fax. 5:05:26 PM Section 24: Requires an absentee ballot application to include an option for a voter to choose to receive absentee ballots by mail for future regularly scheduled state elections. Provides conditions under which the director may require a voter to reapply to receive absentee ballots by mail. Section 25: conforming changes for same day voter registration. Section 26: definition of electronic signature Section 27: conforming to section 18 of the bill related to early voting stations. Section 28: conforming to same day voter registration. Section 29: conforming to same day voter registration. Note: AS 29.26.050(a)(3): voter qualifications, is registered to vote in state elections at a resident address within a municipality at least 30 days before the municipal election at which the person seeks to vote. Section 30: Provides authority to the director of the division of elections in uncodified law to adopt or amend regulations as necessary to implement the changes made by the Act. Section 31: Provides an effective date for the bill's provisions. 5:08:57 PM CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that the committee would recess until 5:30 p.m. 5:36:32 PM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked for an explanation of the difference between the process for counting an absentee ballot and that of counting a questioned ballot, when a change in voter registration is made at the same time. 5:38:47 PM LAURI WILSON, Elections Supervisor, Division of Elections (DOE), Office of the Lieutenant Governor, explained that questioned ballots are voted at the precinct only on Election Day; absentee in-person ballots can be voted 15 days before the election. She added that there are other types of absentee ballots - by facsimile ("fax"), by mail, and online. She stated that these ballots go through the review process. She said that once the voter has cast one of these ballots, DOE staff logs the ballot and completes an initial review of the voter's record comparing the information on the outside of the ballot envelope with the information in the database. They then assign a count code - full count, partial count, or reject. She said that the review report and the ballot envelope together go through a second review, which is performed by one of two independent boards: the "questioned" board for the questioned ballots and the "absentee" board for the absentee ballots. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked for confirmation that questioned ballots are voted on Election Day and absentee ballots are voted 15 days before the election. MS. WILSON answered, "That is correct." REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked for the length of the early voting period. MS. WILSON responded that the early voting period is the 15 days before the election. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked if absentee and early voting are the same. MS. WILSON replied that absentee voting and early voting are two separate processes. 5:41:03 PM REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked for the proof of residency that is required to demonstrate that the person registering to vote has lived in the district for 30 days. MS. WILSON answered that for the presidential election, Alaska currently has same day registration. She stated that when the voter applies for registration, DOE verifies all the voter's identifiers using the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database and the Social Security Administration (SSA) database, both of which are accessed through DMV. She said that currently DOE can look up a voter's registration date in its database to determine if the voter has been registered for 30 days. She said that for someone newly registered, under Version O he/she would need to submit a signed declaration attesting that he/she has been a resident of the district for 30 days prior to the election. The identifiers for that person then would be verified through the DMV and SSA databases. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP said that his concern is the potential for voter fraud, not on the national level but on the local level. He mentioned that he is considering introducing an amendment to Version O that would require a person registering within 30 days of an election to provide DOE with some proof of being a resident of the district. The types of proof would be a paycheck stub, a current Alaska driver's license, a utility bill, or a bank statement with a current address. 5:45:07 PM MS. WILSON said that some other states do require that type of proof. She added that since Alaska does not require that, an amendment would be needed for statute changes and subsequent changes in DOE processes. 5:45:53 PM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK referred to Ms. Wilson's statement that an in-person absentee ballot is considered differently [by DOE] than early voting. He asked if she was referring to early voting in the six locations at which a person can actually early vote or to someone voting an in-person absentee ballot before the election. MS. WILSON responded that at the six early voting stations, DOE offers what is referred to as "early voting" and also offers absentee in-person voting. She explained that early voting, as it is currently done, requires those stations to have "live" access to the DOE voter registration database to confirm the eligibility of the voter at the time he/she is voting. Election workers check to ensure there are no changes in the voter record, verify the voter's identification (ID), and issue a voter certificate. The certificate is signed by the voter; he/she is issued a ballot; and the ballot goes "live" into the ballot box with no review. MS. WILSON went on to say that if a voter wishing to early vote has had a change in his/her record, he/she would have to fill out the [questioned ballot] envelope at the absentee in-person table to change his/her registration, and his/her vote would be subject to the review process. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked for confirmation that at the 181 early vote locations without live access verification, voters would vote an in-person absentee ballot. MS. WILSON answered, "That is correct." REPRESENTATIVE TUCK also asked for confirmation that currently someone could vote in-person absentee at one of the 181 locations and change or update his/her voter registration on the ballot envelope. MS. WILSON replied, "That is correct." REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked if DOE can verify a change in residency before the ballot is counted or if DOE takes the signed affidavit. MS. WILSON responded that DOE takes the voter's signed confirmation attesting to living at the resident address stated. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked for confirmation that there is no way of verifying residence prior to the ballot being counted. MS. WILSON answered that unless the voter's address matches the address in the DMV database, without any additional proof, that is correct. 5:50:04 PM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK mentioned that [concurrent] verification is not currently possible for those voting same day or in-person, if he/she makes registration changes. He suggested that same day voting should be offered to someone voting a special needs ballot, voting by fax, or voting at the 181 stations allowing in-person absentee early voting within  days of the election. 5:50:35 PM REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP mentioned that often DMV records are not current when a person moves frequently. 5:51:32 PM REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP moved adopt Conceptual Amendment 1, which read: Page 3, line 6, following "election", add," a person registering to vote within 30 days of the election must show proof of Alaskan residency prior to registering and sign an affidavit that they have resided in the district for the last 30 days prior to the election and shall exhibit to an election official on form of verification, including one of the following; (1) prior voter registration with last four year (2) pay stub proving Alaskan Employment (3) current Alaska Driver's License (4) utility bill receipts with current address (5) bank statements with current address REPRESENTATIVE TUCK objected for the purpose of discussion. He said his only concern regarding the proposed amendment is that it is clear that the verification process is not necessary to change party affiliation. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP responded, "That is my intent." REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked if [CSHB 1, Version O] would allow someone to change his/her party affiliation on the day of the election. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK answered yes. He said it is currently allowed with a questioned ballot and an in-person absentee ballot. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX offered that in a primary election, one can't change one's party registration on the day of the election and have it count. She added that it must be done 30 days prior. 5:53:57 PM MS. WILSON said that Representative LeDoux is correct. She responded that currently a voter can make any registration changes on a questioned ballot form or an absentee in-person [ballot] envelope; however, for the primary election, a party affiliation change is not effective on the day of election under current statute. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked if under either Version O or Conceptual Amendment 1 to Version O, someone could change one's party affiliation on the day of the election and have it count, to vote in that election. MS. WILSON expressed her understanding that the intent of Version O is to allow for same day registration, which would include a change in party affiliation the same day and allow the vote to be counted. 5:55:27 PM REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP stated that Conceptual Amendment 1 would have no effect on that situation. [Conceptual Amendment 1 was treated as adopted.] 5:56:06 PM The committee took a brief at-ease at 5:56 p.m. 5:56:10 PM REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX moved to report CSHB 1, Version 30- LS0070\O, Bullard, 3/14/17 out of committee, as amended, with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, CSHB 1(STA) was reported from the House State Affairs Standing Committee.