Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/30/2001 04:49 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
             HB 193-MODIFIED BLANKET PRIMARY ELECTION                                                                       
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
SENATOR THERRIAULT  moved adoption of the Kurtz S  4/30/01 committee                                                            
substitute  for  HB  193  as  a  working  document.   There  was  no                                                            
objection.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ELLIS asked  whether Senator  Therriault's  issue with  the                                                            
legislation was access to the ballot by petition.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT responded  that on the date that party candidates                                                            
had to make  their decision, people  that want access to  the ballot                                                            
through  the petition  process would  also have to  fill out  a form                                                            
with the Division  of Election and  would then be given a  signature                                                            
booklet.  They  would  then  have  until   the  primary  to  collect                                                            
signatures,  turn them  in and  be placed  on the  general  election                                                            
ballot. They  would be required  to adhere  to all APOC filings  for                                                            
collecting  and  disbursing  money  for  running  a  campaign  while                                                            
collecting the  signatures. This would keep the reporting  standards                                                            
the same for everyone.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1104                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JOE  BALASH, staff  to Senator  Therriault,  testified that  the                                                            
amendment  adopted by committee  was incorporated  into the  Finance                                                            
Committee  substitute.  He then  pointed out  that  wording was  not                                                            
changed  on  page  3  of  CSHB  193(FIN),  line  17-20  to  make  it                                                            
consistent with the changed  wording of the statute allowing parties                                                            
to have a single ballot unless they wanted to open it up.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
He then restated Senator Terriault's testimony.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1258                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. AVRUM  GROSS  testified that,  at the  request  of Lt.  Governor                                                            
Ulmer, he chaired  a task force that worked to draft  legislation to                                                            
respond to  the Supreme Court case  Democratic Party v. Jones.  They                                                            
ruled that the blanket  primary in California was illegal because it                                                            
did not  allow parties to  limit individuals  who could select  that                                                            
parties' candidates.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Prior to  the ruling, Alaska  had a blanket  primary system.  Due to                                                            
the ruling,  provisions had to be  made so that parties could  limit                                                            
who could vote to select its candidates in a primary.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The resultant  draft  legislation was  as close  to existing  law as                                                            
possible.   Voters  would  get a  ballot with  all  the offices  and                                                            
candidates listed unless  a particular party decided to limit access                                                            
to its candidates to only  those voters registered as independent or                                                            
members of  their party. In that case,  independents and  members of                                                            
the party choosing to limit  would get a blanket primary ballot with                                                            
all candidates listed while  voters from other parties would receive                                                            
a ballot  listing  all candidates  except  the candidates  from  the                                                            
limiting party.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
This legislation  was drafted to encourage voters  to participate in                                                            
primaries  and  because  Alaska  has  always  had  open  or  blanket                                                            
primaries,  never closed  primaries. The more  primaries are  closed                                                            
the less participation there is.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 193 is unlike  the legislation drafted by the task  force because                                                            
it adopts a closed primary  for the first time in the history of the                                                            
state.  It allows  parties to  tell voters  who  can participate  in                                                            
selecting  its candidates and  to dictate that  voters who  vote for                                                            
its candidates may not  vote in any other primary at all. This gives                                                            
the parties  a power  never held  before because  it would  prohibit                                                            
voters from voting in primaries  other than the party for which they                                                            
are  registered even  if they  are  allowed to  do so.  This is  not                                                            
required by the Supreme  Court decision and it limits people who can                                                            
participate in primaries.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  TAYLOR  asked  whether  the  legislation  drafted  in  Mr.                                                            
Grosses committee  allowed an individual  to vote for more  than one                                                            
time during the same primary.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS said each voter  got just one vote but they could vote for                                                            
a democratic candidate  for governor and a republican  candidate for                                                            
lt. governor unless  a party had limited access to  their ballot. If                                                            
republicans  were the  only  party that  limited  their ballot  then                                                            
independents  and registered republicans  could vote for  candidates                                                            
from all  parties  but voters registered  with  other parties  could                                                            
vote for all candidates except those on the republican platform.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1709                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  TAYLOR observed  that in  1992 or 1994,  Jack Coghill  was                                                            
told that.  if he closed  the republican  party ballot, republicans                                                             
would be  able vote in  that ballot and  also the democratic  ballot                                                            
since the  democrats  had left their  ballot open.  This would  give                                                            
them two votes.  He thought Mr. Gross was advocating  this position.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS  said that was  not the case and  he proceeded to  explain                                                            
his position again.  Each voter gets just one vote  for each office.                                                            
A party can limit  the people who can vote for their  candidates but                                                            
they can  not limit  a persons right  to vote  for other  candidates                                                            
beyond that party if the  voter elects to do so. "Republicans do not                                                            
have to vote  for republicans if they  don't want to. They  can vote                                                            
for  democrats  if  they  want  to  but  democrats  can't  vote  for                                                            
republicans if republicans don't want them to."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  TAYLOR  responded  that  it  would  follow  that  all  the                                                            
republicans and  independents could exercise their  right to vote on                                                            
the  republican ballot  then  vote for  democratic  candidates on  a                                                            
different ballot.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS said this could  all be done on one ballot and each person                                                            
could  only  vote once.  Individuals  would  get  different  ballots                                                            
depending  on their party  preference and whether  or not the  party                                                            
elected to  limit their primary to  those voters registered  to that                                                            
party. HB 193  will require independents to pick a  party. They will                                                            
have to vote  a straight republican  or straight democratic  ticket.                                                            
They can't  move back and forth and  participate in one primary  for                                                            
governor  and  another  primary  for  lt.  governor.  This  is  what                                                            
independents want  and he could not see the purpose  of denying them                                                            
that right.  He could understand republicans  not wanting  democrats                                                            
or independents voting  in a republican primary but if they did want                                                            
independents  voting  in the  republican  primary,  what  difference                                                            
would  it make  if  they voted  for  state  senate in  a  democratic                                                            
primary.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  TAYLOR  thought that  could  easily be  set  up but  would                                                            
probably  not be acceptable  to  democrats. His  preference is  that                                                            
every  independent and  every republican  gets two  ballots so  they                                                            
could vote for republican candidates and also democratic ones.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS said  that under this bill, if a republican  asked for the                                                            
republican ballot  he would be prohibited from participating  in the                                                            
democratic primary whether the democrats wanted him to or not.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said he understood that.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GROSS thanked  the  committee  for hearing  his  testimony.  He                                                            
continued  to  question why  independents  should  be  cut off  from                                                            
participating  in a blanket primary. He'd heard no  support for that                                                            
position.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked  Mr. Gross for his opinion on what had been                                                            
added to the bill.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSS replied  that wasn't his focus but it sounded  reasonable.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT expressed  his appreciation to the task force and                                                            
agreed that they had returned  recommendations that were as close to                                                            
original statute  as possible. This was appropriate  since they were                                                            
not asked to make  a policy call and is what the legislature  is now                                                            
doing.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GROSS  stated  he  came  to testify  because  of  the  way  the                                                            
legislation has developed not simply because it was changed.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2067                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL testified  that this is a personal  priority                                                            
even  though  the  task  force  put  forward   the  bill  using  the                                                            
parameters set by Lt. Governor Ulmer.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
He  then read  from  page 14  of  Democratic  Party v.  Jones  which                                                            
provides him with the logic behind HB 193.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR called  a recess at 5:31 p.m. and called the meeting                                                            
back to order at 5:35 p.m.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked  that the  Director  of the  Division  of                                                            
Elections  come forward to  comment on the  new section of  the bill                                                            
not considered by the House. (NEW TAPE)                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 01-27, SIDE A                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JANET KOWALSKE,  Director of the Division of Elections,  stated that                                                            
her staff  had worked  with Senator  Therriault's  staff as well  as                                                            
APOC  and  the  Department  of  Law  and  determined  there  are  no                                                            
technical problems with the bill.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  TAYLOR  called  for  further  testimony  and  received  no                                                            
response. He asked for the pleasure of the committee.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT moved  the Senate Judiciary version of HB 193 and                                                            
accompanying   fiscal   note   from   committee    with   individual                                                            
recommendations.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELLIS objected.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  TAYLOR called  for a roll  call vote.  The measure  passed                                                            
with Chairman Taylor and  Senators Cowdery and Therriault voting yea                                                            
and Senator  Ellis voting  nay. The bill  moved from committee  with                                                            
individual recommendations.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                

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