Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/02/1995 09:15 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
  SENATE BILL NO.  5                                                           
                                                                               
       An  Act  prescribing  the  use and  characteristics  of                 
       voting booths employed  in elections  and the color  of                 
       ballots used in state primary elections.                                
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Halford  directed that SB  5 be  brought on  for                 
  discussion.  PATRICIA  GRENIER, aide to Senator  Kelly, came                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  before  committee.  She explained  that in the past election                 
  voters complained about two things:                                          
                                                                               
       1.   Different colored ballots                                          
       2.   Curtainless suitcase voting booths                                 
                                                                               
  The  proposed  legislation   addresses  those  concerns   by                 
  ensuring  the secrecy of ballots and  the privacy of voting,                 
  in two ways:                                                                 
                                                                               
       1.   Requiring that half of all booths at each precinct                 
  be                                                                           
            curtain booths.                                                    
                                                                               
       2.   Having all  primary ballots printed on white paper                 
  only.                                                                        
                                                                               
  At  present, the  secrecy of  voting  in Alaska  is severely                 
  compromised.  There  are not enough curtain voting booths at                 
  all polling places.  Ms.  Grenier stressed the importance of                 
  maintaining privacy,  both  in terms  of  the color  of  the                 
  ballot and the secrecy provided by curtain booths.                           
                                                                               
  Senator Donley questioned the  zero fiscal note accompanying                 
  the  bill  and  suggested  that  a physical  cost  would  be                 
  involved.  Ms. Grenier advised that  the state already has a                 
  sufficient number of curtain booths.   It is merely a matter                 
  of correct distribution by contractors who set them up.                      
                                                                               
  Senator Zharoff raised the question  of whether it would  be                 
  practical, in rural areas with small populations ,to require                 
  that 50% of  the booths have curtains.  He then asked if the                 
  proposed  change  would  apply  to   municipal  as  well  as                 
  statewide elections, and questioned whether sites at which a                 
  voter picks  up a ballot  (absentee) would  be considered  a                 
  polling  place.   BARBARA  WHITING, Administrative  Officer,                 
  Division  of  Election,  Office of  the  Lt.  Governor, came                 
  before  committee.   She  said  that  the Lt.  Governor  and                 
  division have taken a neutral position on the bill.  Senator                 
  Rieger followed up on one of Senator Zharoff's questions and                 
  asked if the location where one  picks up an absentee ballot                 
  is  considered  a  polling  place.   Ms.  Whiting  responded                 
  affirmatively.                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Donley  noted supplemental funding requested  by the                 
  division  and  inquired  concerning  lack  of cost  for  the                 
  proposed bill.  Ms. Whiting  described the present procedure                 
  whereby the division issues a bid, and  the award contractor                 
  picks  ups,  delivers,  and  sets  up  voting  booths.   The                 
  division has  a sufficient number of curtain booths to place                 
  half in  every  polling place.   There  is thus  no need  to                 
  purchase additional  booths.   A mistake  by the  contractor                 
  gave rise to the problem encountered by Senator Kelly in the                 
  past election.                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
  In response to a question  from Senator Zharoff, Ms. Whiting                 
  advised  of  468  voting  precincts.   She  also  voiced her                 
  understanding that the  proposed bill  would apply to  state                 
  rather than municipal elections.                                             
                                                                               
  Senator Donley spoke to need to  pursue contractors who fail                 
  to satisfactorily perform within contract specifications.                    
                                                                               
  Senator Sharp MOVED  that CSSB 5  (STA) pass from  committee                 
  with individual recommendations and accompanying zero fiscal                 
  note.  No  objection having  been raised, CSSB  5 (STA)  was                 
  REPORTED OUT of committee  with a zero fiscal note  from the                 
  Office of  the Governor, Division of Elections.  All members                 
  signed the committee report with  a "do pass" recommendation                 
  with  the  exception  of  Senator  Zharoff  who  signed  "no                 
  recommendation."                                                             
                                                                               

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