Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

05/08/2021 10:00 AM JUDICIARY

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
10:05:57 AM Start
10:06:35 AM SB39
11:27:25 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
        SB 39-BALLOT CUSTODY/TAMPERING; VOTER REG; MAIL                                                                     
10:06:35 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND announced the consideration of SENATE BILL NO. 39                                                                 
"An Act  relating to elections;  relating to  voter registration;                                                               
relating to ballots  and a system of tracking  and accounting for                                                               
ballots;  establishing an  election offense  hotline; designating                                                               
as a  class A  misdemeanor the collection  of ballots  from other                                                               
voters; designating as  a class C felony  the intentional opening                                                               
or tampering  with a  sealed ballot,  certificate, or  package of                                                               
ballots without  authorization from the director  of the division                                                               
of elections; and providing for an effective date."                                                                             
[CSSB 39(STA)  was before the  committee and this was  the second                                                               
hearing on the bill.]                                                                                                           
10:07:23 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGHES pointed  out that sometimes people  testify on the                                                               
original bill  rather than  the current  version, which  does not                                                               
reflect any  changes the  legislature has made  to the  bill. She                                                               
directed the public  to the committee substitute (CS)  for SB 39,                                                               
Version N.                                                                                                                      
10:07:54 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND opened public testimony on SB 39.                                                                                 
10:08:06 AM                                                                                                                   
At ease                                                                                                                         
10:08:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND reconvened the meeting.  He advised the public that                                                               
written comments could be sent to sjud@akleg.gov.                                                                               
10:09:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CORINNE AKERS, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, said she is                                                               
a 43-year resident. She spoke in  opposition to SB 39 because the                                                               
bill  appears to  make it  more difficult  to vote;  instead, the                                                               
legislature should make it easier for residents to vote.                                                                        
10:10:40 AM                                                                                                                   
ERIC MUENCH,  representing self,  Ketchikan, Alaska,  stated that                                                               
he is a longtime Alaskan. He  offered his belief that the goal of                                                               
state government  should be  to make voting  as easy  as possible                                                               
for  all citizens.  Any law,  regulation or  procedure that  that                                                               
limits or  makes it  more complicated  for voters  in communities                                                               
and regions to  access the polls is unconstitutional  on its face                                                               
unless it  remedies a  defect or  past abuse. He  said SB  39 has                                                               
many provisions  that will  cause bad effects.  It also  fails to                                                               
address a  need or to justify  its provisions so the  bill should                                                               
be rejected by this committee. He stated opposition to SB 39.                                                                   
10:12:40 AM                                                                                                                   
LEON  JAIMES,  representing  self, Anchorage,  Alaska,  spoke  in                                                               
opposition to SB 39. He said he  testified on SB 39 in a previous                                                               
committee. He  explained that he implements  digital multi-factor                                                               
identification  systems  for banks  and  hospitals  in his  work.                                                               
These systems are difficult for  the doctors and attorneys to use                                                               
so he  ventured it would  be hard  for the general  population to                                                               
use.  Further, these  systems have  substantial hidden  costs but                                                               
the  fiscal note  does  not  include a  rough  estimate of  those                                                               
costs.  He  estimated that  such  a  system  would cost  tens  of                                                               
millions  of dollars  to implement  and millions  more in  annual                                                               
operating costs. He  wondered how the state would pay  for such a                                                               
system at  a time of  budget crisis. He cautioned  against naming                                                               
brands or  specific technologies  such as distributed  ledgers in                                                               
the  bill because  it would  necessitate constantly  revising the                                                               
He  explained   that  distributed   technology  is  a   means  to                                                               
distribute  data in  transactions not  a system  to protect  that                                                               
data.  Existing  data  technologies   already  have  methods  for                                                               
encryption  and  audit  trails. Further,  distributed  technology                                                               
requires a specialized computer  science, cryptography skill set,                                                               
which is in  such high demand that the state  would not likely be                                                               
able to acquire it but if it did, it would be very expensive.                                                                   
10:15:42 AM                                                                                                                   
MICHAEL GARVEY, American Civil Liberties  Union of Alaska (ACLU),                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska, said ACLU Alaska  is encouraged by the updated                                                               
provisions that help voter engagement  such as ballot curing, the                                                               
use  of travel  identification cards,  and to  choose to  receive                                                               
absentee  ballots   by  mail  for  future,   regularly  scheduled                                                               
elections. However,  he views Section  54 as  an unconstitutional                                                               
attempt to diminish the power and  duty of the judicial branch to                                                               
interpret  laws   to  ensure  that   laws  do  not   violate  the                                                               
constitutional guarantees.  It seeks to give  the legislature the                                                               
authority to  determine how to  conduct elections in  Alaska. The                                                               
result  could  be  the restriction  of  Alaskans'  voting  rights                                                               
without consequence.                                                                                                            
MR. GARVEY  said the ACLU is  concerned that the bill  would make                                                               
unnecessary  and  expensive  technological  changes  to  Alaska's                                                               
elections   that   will   present  risks   for   data   security,                                                               
disenfranchisement, and  cost. Distributive ledger  technology is                                                               
premised  on the  idea that  more people  being involved  in data                                                               
maintenance  increases  the  accuracy   of  data.  However,  this                                                               
approach     inherently     presents     significant     privacy,                                                               
confidentiality,  and   data  security  concerns  that   are  not                                                               
addressed by SB 39. More entry  points into a data system creates                                                               
more  opportunity to  compromise the  system. The  bill does  not                                                               
specify  if it  would be  public and  it does  not describe  what                                                               
election data would be specifically covered.                                                                                    
MR.  GARVEY said  that  requiring voters  to  use a  multi-factor                                                               
authentication  process presents  similar concerns.  For example,                                                               
if the  state were to send  confirmation codes to voters  by text                                                               
message,  it  could create  a  huge  security risk  because  text                                                               
messages are not  encrypted. This system would create  a vast new                                                               
data set  for the state to  keep secure. Voters may  not have the                                                               
technology or  internet access  needed to  use the  technology or                                                               
may have language  assistance needs that the  system cannot meet.                                                               
While the bill would create an  exemption for those unable to use                                                               
digital  multi-factor authentication,  it  does  not specify  how                                                               
that determination would be made, when, or by whom.                                                                             
MR. GARVEY said  the state should ensure that  these systems will                                                               
work, are secure,  affordable and do not  inhibit Alaskans voting                                                               
rights before requiring them through statute.                                                                                   
MR.  GARVEY  said  finally,  the  ACLU  is  concerned  about  the                                                               
additional rules and requirements SB  39 would impose on Alaskans                                                               
voting  absentee. SB  39  would create  new  election crimes  and                                                               
increase penalties for existing  crimes, including ones that will                                                               
make it harder  for a person to help elders  or disabled veterans                                                               
in  their  communities to  vote.  He  said everyone  agrees  that                                                               
Alaska  election security  could  be improved,  but  the bill  is                                                               
based  on  an inaccurate  diagnosis  of  the problems.  The  ACLU                                                               
believes  that election  improvements should  maximize engagement                                                               
and  help  Alaskans exercise  their  right  to vote  rather  than                                                               
making it unnecessarily complicated, stringent and costly.                                                                      
10:19:04 AM                                                                                                                   
ROBERT  WALTON, representing  self, Douglas,  Alaska, said  he is                                                               
working off CSSB  39(STA) and hopes that is the  right version of                                                               
the bill.  He expressed his  main concerns. First, the  period to                                                               
request absentee ballots  will increase from 10 days  prior to an                                                               
election to 14  days. However, the timeline to  return the ballot                                                               
is  shortened  from receipt  by  10  days  after an  election  to                                                               
receipt  by seven  days after  an election.  Since this  does not                                                               
address  a security  impact, it  should  not be  included in  the                                                               
bill. Second, the bill adds  new reasons for contested elections,                                                               
such that a  person can contest an election due  to a data breach                                                               
or  ballot  accounting  irregularity  sufficient  to  change  the                                                               
outcome. However, since those terms  are not defined, it seems to                                                               
allow people to challenge any election  when they do not like the                                                               
outcome. Third, it  appears that this bill  would outlaw election                                                               
by mail for localities with  populations over 3,000 people unless                                                               
a disaster  declaration has been  issued, which he thought  was a                                                               
bad idea. He said it  appears this bill would criminalize someone                                                               
helping their elderly  neighbor to vote. He referred  to page 25,                                                               
lines 5 to 10 to Section 48, subsection (a) (8) reads:                                                                          
     (8) knowingly collects a ballot from a voter unless                                                                        
         (A) the voter expressly requested that the person                                                                      
    collect the  ballot;                                                                                                        
         (B) the person did not solicit the ballot; and                                                                         
         (C) the person did not collect more than six                                                                           
    ballots voted in a single election.                                                                                         
He suggested that subparagraph (B)  should be stricken or amended                                                               
to allow people  to offer to help their neighbors.  It should not                                                               
be a crime, he said.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  SHOWER explained  that the  timelines in  the bill  were                                                               
based on Colorado's laws to  assist voters with ballot curing. He                                                               
pointed out  that people can already  challenge election results.                                                               
He said that local communities  still maintain control over their                                                               
elections and  SB 39 does  not change  that. He said  that ballot                                                               
harvesting was  debated in committee.  He maintained  that unless                                                               
it  is a  family member  or caregiver  was offering  to help,  it                                                               
opens it  to ballot harvesting.  He maintained the need  for this                                                               
10:24:00 AM                                                                                                                   
JAMIE RODRIGUEZ,  representing self, Anchorage, Alaska,  said she                                                               
has  been  an Alaskan  since  1974,  during  which time  she  has                                                               
witnessed a fair, accessible, inclusive  and secure voting system                                                               
that ensures every Alaskan will  have the opportunity to exercise                                                               
their right to  vote, no matter their  location, physical ability                                                               
or  work. She  offered  her belief  that  the legislature  should                                                               
focus on  providing rural Alaska  with broadband and  more access                                                               
to  voting   instead  of  working   on  a  bill  that   seems  to                                                               
disenfranchise   voters,   will   waste  millions   of   dollars,                                                               
potentially  divert money  and dollars  to special  interests and                                                               
make it more difficult for  Alaska's elders, rural and low-income                                                               
residents to cast  their votes. SB 39 continues  to propagate the                                                               
false narrative that  widespread voter fraud exists  when it does                                                               
not,  she  said.  During  the  2020  election,  the  Division  of                                                               
Elections  made it  easy for  everyone to  vote in  spite of  the                                                               
COVID-19 challenges.  Any changes to  election law should  be for                                                               
the sole purpose of helping  Alaskans cast their votes. She urged                                                               
members  not  to politicize  the  voting  process. She  suggested                                                               
merging HB  66 with SB 39  to create one fair  bill that reflects                                                               
all Alaskans right to vote.                                                                                                     
10:26:43 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND  related his understanding  that the  sponsor would                                                               
like to find common ground to move forward on HB 66 and SB 39.                                                                  
SENATOR SHOWER  explained that he  has been  working on HB  66 to                                                               
find a compromise  solution that will work for as  many people as                                                               
possible on  both sides of the  aisle. He stated that  the reason                                                               
for the  bill is not  to litigate the  2020 election. He  said he                                                               
has been working on this bill  for three years, that the bill has                                                               
little to  do with fraud;  rather, SB  39 relates to  voter rolls                                                               
and data protection.                                                                                                            
10:28:32 AM                                                                                                                   
MARY BORTHWICK,  representing self, Juneau, Alaska,  said she has                                                               
concerns  about the  penalty  provisions, application  timelines,                                                               
digital  authentication process,  and distributed  ledger process                                                               
in  SB 39.  She said  she has  lived in  Juneau longer  than most                                                               
members have been  alive. She expressed concern  about the felony                                                               
penalty  provisions for  well-meaning people  helping seniors  or                                                               
the disabled to vote.                                                                                                           
MS. BORTHWICK expressed concern  about shortening the application                                                               
timeline  because U.S.  Postal Service  mail  delivery is  slower                                                               
now.  In  some  cases,  letters that  would  normally  take  five                                                               
transit days  now take  12 days  to arrive. It  may mean  that an                                                               
Absentee Ballot Application  will not arrive in time  or that the                                                               
returned ballot would not arrive  at the Division of Elections in                                                               
time to be counted. Third,  the digital authentication process is                                                               
too complicated. She  wondered who will determine  when the voter                                                               
is unable  to use the  authentication system, whether  the person                                                               
could just say he or she  did not understand it and could request                                                               
a  different  process  or  if the  alternative  process  will  be                                                               
clearly  defined.   Fourth,  she   offered  her  view   that  the                                                               
distributed  ledger  technology  sounds  like  one  more  way  to                                                               
monitor  people.  She  agreed with  the  previous  testifier  who                                                               
cautioned against  listing company names in  statute. She related                                                               
her understanding that  the bill will require  voting machines be                                                               
made in the U.S. She said  she hoped that enough quality machines                                                               
would be available that were  manufactured completely in the U.S.                                                               
She wondered  if that meant  that no parts could  be manufactured                                                               
in China and how strictly that would be enforced.                                                                               
10:31:28 AM                                                                                                                   
SUE SHERIF,  representing self, Fairbanks, Alaska,  said that she                                                               
also submitted written testimony.  She acknowledged that election                                                               
security should be a goal  everyone shares. She applauded Senator                                                               
Shower's concerns and his work  on a compromise bill. She offered                                                               
her belief that  SB 39 is an overkill solution  to a problem that                                                               
seems to stem from random  errors rather than widespread fraud or                                                               
tampering with Alaska's elections. She  said she agrees with many                                                               
of the  previous testifiers about  some of the weaknesses  in the                                                               
MS. SHERIF said that she would like  to be able to ask a neighbor                                                               
if  she can  take her  absentee ballot  to the  post office.  She                                                               
explained  she is  a  single, senior  with  a compromised  immune                                                               
system without  home mail delivery,  who relies on  her neighbors                                                               
for  help.  Second,  she  expressed  concern  about  the  use  of                                                               
blockchain  technology  and  that  specific  companies  would  be                                                               
listed  in statute,  requiring  an annual  review.  As Mr.  James                                                               
testified  to earlier,  the technology  is not  inexpensive. This                                                               
comes at a time when the  state is facing budget deficits. Third,                                                               
the  Information  Technology  (IT)  experts  do  not  necessarily                                                               
endorse the use of blockchain  types of technology for elections.                                                               
For example, the National Academy of Sciences has reported:                                                                     
     While the notion of using  a blockchain as an immutable                                                                    
     ballot  box may  seem promising,  blockchain technology                                                                    
     does little  to solve  the fundamental  security issues                                                                    
     of   elections,  and   indeed,  blockchains   introduce                                                                    
     additional security vulnerabilities.                                                                                       
MS. SHERIF stated that Ronald Rivest, a cryptographer and                                                                       
senior professor at MIT who has looked at voting technology                                                                     
extensively said:                                                                                                               
     People  often think  that using  more  technology is  a                                                                    
     good  thing, and  that we  get more  benefits and  more                                                                    
     security  from technology.  In fact,  it tends  to work                                                                    
     the opposite way. More  technology typically means more                                                                    
     complexity. And more complexity means less security.                                                                       
MS. SHERIF commented that she  provided links to those studies in                                                               
her  written testimony.  She said  she hoped  that members  would                                                               
reconsider using these types of specific technology.                                                                            
CHAIR HOLLAND stated that blockchain  technology has been removed                                                               
from the bill.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR SHOWER  cautioned that systems are  already being hacked.                                                               
He advised Ms.  Sherif that voters can ask someone  to take their                                                               
ballots to  the post office, but  people cannot ask to  deliver a                                                               
ballot  to the  USPS. He  characterized  the bill  as moving  the                                                               
Division  of  Elections  into  the 21st  Century  by  using  best                                                               
10:38:05 AM                                                                                                                   
SANDRA  MURRAY, representing  self, Anchorage,  Alaska, spoke  in                                                               
opposition  to  SB  39  because  it  will  criminalize  community                                                               
members  and punish  them  for picking  up  absentee ballots  for                                                               
neighbors and friends  and delivering them to a  U.S. Post Office                                                               
drop box. Second,  it will place undue burden on  voters by using                                                               
digital  authentication  verification  when   there  is  not  any                                                               
evidence of voter  fraud. Finally, it will  prohibit the Division                                                               
of  Elections from  counting ballots  until 7  days prior  to the                                                               
election.  She   offered  her  belief  that   Alaska's  elections                                                               
currently work well so SB 39 should be rejected.                                                                                
10:39:12 AM                                                                                                                   
FELISA   WILSON,   representing   self,  Joint   Base   Elmendorf                                                               
Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska, spoke in  opposition to SB 39. She                                                               
said she  is a physician  who has  resided in Alaska  since 2015.                                                               
She  said  she  worked  as  an  election  official  in  the  2020                                                               
elections.  She observed  firsthand the  Alaska election  process                                                               
and the  technology. She raised  concerns about some  sections of                                                               
the bill,  including sections 41,  45, 46, and 48,  with specific                                                               
concerns  about  changes to  timelines  that  may affect  whether                                                               
ballots will  be counted, allowing  the director the  latitude to                                                               
limit elections to  mail may adversely affect rural  areas due to                                                               
mail  service  delays.  She expressed  concern  about  blockchain                                                               
technology, using multi-factor  authentication, and criminalizing                                                               
neighbors or church  members from offering to  help deliver their                                                               
friends'  or neighbors'  ballots to  the post  office. She  urged                                                               
members  to consider  public testimony  because  it outlines  the                                                               
burdens SB 39  will impose on the public, division  staff and the                                                               
adverse fiscal impact to the state.                                                                                             
10:44:45 AM                                                                                                                   
SHELLIE  GOODEN,  representing  self, Anchorage,  Alaska,  stated                                                               
that she  prefers the language in  HB 66. She offered  her belief                                                               
that  SB 39  is  punitive.  She expressed  concern  that some  of                                                               
Alaska's  indigenous residents  do not  have internet  access and                                                               
experience  mail  delays  and that  Alaska's  elections  will  be                                                               
modeled  after  Colorado's  election   laws.  Further,  the  bill                                                               
disenfranchises  disabled,   elderly  and   medically  challenged                                                               
Alaskans who cannot participate in  same day or in-person voting.                                                               
She offered her belief that ballot  harvesting is not an issue in                                                               
Alaska. She  said she  had difficulty  finding amendments  to the                                                               
bill and just learned about this hearing an hour ago.                                                                           
CHAIR HOLLAND responded  that this meeting was  public noticed on                                                               
April 30 and is  being held on a Saturday to  allow the public an                                                               
opportunity to testify on the bill  and not need to take time off                                                               
from work to do so.                                                                                                             
SENATOR SHOWER remarked  that his chief of staff  was trained and                                                               
paid to harvest ballots in a previous gubernatorial campaign.                                                                   
10:48:38 AM                                                                                                                   
CORIE  DEVRIES,  representing  self,  Palmer,  Alaska,  spoke  in                                                               
support of SB 39. She  acknowledged that issues exist that affect                                                               
the  integrity of  the election  system.  She said  that she  has                                                               
heard of instances of ballot  harvesting, which will be addressed                                                               
by  the  bill.  She  offered  her   view  that  SB  39  does  not                                                               
disenfranchise voters  but will ensure  that every legal  vote is                                                               
counted. She  spoke in support  of the provision to  allow voters                                                               
an opportunity to cure their ballots.                                                                                           
10:50:05 AM                                                                                                                   
MORGAN LIM, Planned Parenthood  Alliance Advocate (PPAA), Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, stated  that PPAA  opposes SB  39 because  it is  a voter                                                               
suppression bill  that imposes barriers  to access the  polls. He                                                               
said  the bill  claims to  combat election  fraud in  Alaska, but                                                               
that is  a baseless claim  that is the  foundation for a  bill in                                                               
search of  a problem. If  passed, it will  disenfranchise voters.                                                               
He  said PPAA  supports  policies  that make  it  easier for  all                                                               
voters to register and cast a  ballot. It is unfortunate that the                                                               
U.S.  has not  lived up  to its  promise of  equal access  to the                                                               
ballot  box,  but Black,  indigenous,  and  people of  color  are                                                               
likely  to face  barriers  to voting.  Alaska,  like many  places                                                               
throughout  the  country,  is  plagued  with  inadequate  polling                                                               
places  and increasingly  limited  voting hours,  disenfranchises                                                               
formerly incarcerated  individuals and has systematic  efforts to                                                               
suppress the vote in communities.                                                                                               
MR.  LIM  described  SB  39   as  part  of  a  nationwide  voter-                                                               
suppression trend.  He pointed  out that  during the  first three                                                               
months  of  2021,  47 states  introduced  361  voter  suppression                                                               
bills.  He maintained  that  despite claims  to  the contrary  by                                                               
proponents, Version N has the same  goal as the original bill. It                                                               
imposes a  cascade of barriers  on voting He reiterated  that the                                                               
current version of SB 39 creates  a web of barriers to voting. He                                                               
urged the committee  to take steps to allow  eligible Alaskans to                                                               
be registered  to vote. He  urged the  committee not to  move the                                                               
10:52:28 AM                                                                                                                   
DIANN  DARNALL, representing  self, Fairbanks,  Alaska, expressed                                                               
concern about the  costs to implement SB 39.  She echoed previous                                                               
testifiers.  She  recalled  the  bill version  she  reviewed  did                                                               
include  blockchain  technology.   She  expressed  concern  about                                                               
shortening the mail ballot timeframe  rather than lengthening the                                                               
time  ballots  can  be  received due  to  mail  delays,  imposing                                                               
criminal penalties for  those who offer to  deliver their elderly                                                               
and disabled  neighbors' ballots to  the USPS drop box.  She said                                                               
she did  not believe significant  problems in  Alaska's elections                                                               
exist, that  she would like the  state to make it  easier and not                                                               
harder to vote.                                                                                                                 
10:55:01 AM                                                                                                                   
BERT HOUGHTALING, representing self,  Big Lake, Alaska, said that                                                               
he has  observed the effects  ballot harvesting has had  over the                                                               
years. He supported  his view that vote fraud  exists by pointing                                                               
out  that  former Representative  LeDoux  has  been charged  with                                                               
federal and state election criminal  charges. He said that ballot                                                               
harvesting has become  very apparent in Alaska.  He surmised that                                                               
teams  of people  collect ballots  with  prefilled signatures  by                                                               
going  door to  door.  He  supports any  bill  that ensures  that                                                               
Alaska's elections are safer and secure.                                                                                        
10:56:55 AM                                                                                                                   
PATRICIA DOOLEY,  representing self, Anchorage, Alaska,  said she                                                               
is a longtime Alaska resident. She  spoke in opposition to SB 39.                                                               
She  expressed concern  about the  barriers to  voting in  SB 39,                                                               
including the multi-factor  authentication requirements. She said                                                               
she did not  find any evidence of widespread  fraud with Alaska's                                                               
election  processes  and  laws  that  ensure  the  elections  are                                                               
secure.  Anchorage's  vote-by-mail  system uses  Dominion  voting                                                               
machines, which  she has found  to be  fast and secure.  She said                                                               
she  has never  had an  issue  voting absentee.  She offered  her                                                               
support for the ballot curing provision  in the bill but the bill                                                               
should define ballot harvesting.                                                                                                
10:59:54 AM                                                                                                                   
BECKY  STOPPA, representing  self,  Wasilla,  Alaska, spoke  with                                                               
some   concerns  about   SB   39,   including  the   multi-factor                                                               
authentication  requirements, witness  provisions in  Section 30,                                                               
and  penalty  provisions  that  will  create  undue  burdens  for                                                               
seniors,  those with  disabilities and  rural Alaskans.  Further,                                                               
the bill  lacks a fiscal  note. She  offered her belief  that the                                                               
bill will  make it more difficult  for people to vote.  She urged                                                               
members not to move the bill as currently written.                                                                              
11:01:26 AM                                                                                                                   
TOM BOUTIN,  representing self, Juneau, Alaska,  spoke in support                                                               
of SB 39. He said he was  alarmed by the election issues that led                                                               
to  criminal charges  against  former  Representative LeDoux.  He                                                               
offered his view  that SB 39 will address that  issue. He offered                                                               
his  view  that it  is  not  good to  send  ballots  to those  on                                                               
outdated voter  rolls. He said  he did  not mind extra  effort to                                                               
register to  vote and to prove  his eligibility to vote.  He said                                                               
he  hoped  that  this  bill   will  fix  problems  with  Alaska's                                                               
elections and the integrity of elections will be restored.                                                                      
11:02:50 AM                                                                                                                   
MARY  ELIZABETH  KEHRHAHN-STARK,  representing  self,  Fairbanks,                                                               
Alaska,  spoke in  opposition  to SB  39.  She expressed  concern                                                               
about the  multi-factor authentication  provision that  will make                                                               
it more complicated for people to  vote and not allowing a friend                                                               
or neighbor to  help in the voting process. She  offered her view                                                               
that this  bill is a  reaction to  the 2020 election.  Other than                                                               
the   issue   raised   by    previous   speakers   about   former                                                               
Representative  LeDoux, there  has  not been  signs of  malicious                                                               
voting issues.  She offered  her belief that  SB 39  makes voting                                                               
more complicated and burdensome.                                                                                                
11:05:29 AM                                                                                                                   
GORDON  DEVRIES,  representing  self, Palmer,  Alaska,  spoke  in                                                               
support  of SB  39.  He stated  that last  fall  the Division  of                                                               
Elections was  hacked and  information was  compromised. Alaskans                                                               
want  access to  in  person,  absentee and  by  mail ballots  but                                                               
Alaska  cannot currently  provide  this in  a  manner that  gives                                                               
Alaskans  confidence  in  their  election  system.  He  expressed                                                               
concern that Alaska's voter rolls  are inaccurate. He offered his                                                               
view  that  SB  39  is  a broad-based  bill  that  will  leverage                                                               
technology to  make voting secure while  increasing access. Since                                                               
it isn't possible to hand cast  and count ballots, which he would                                                               
prefer, technology is how elections  occur. Thus, it is incumbent                                                               
upon the  state to  make Alaska's  elections beyond  reproach. He                                                               
offered his  view that bipartisan  federal election  reviews have                                                               
highlighted  that  harvesting  ballots   is  a  major  factor  in                                                               
undermining voter confidence. Voting  should be accessible to all                                                               
qualified citizens  and secure.  He offered  his belief  that the                                                               
state should spend money on  the integrity of the election system                                                               
so Alaskans can have confidence in the system.                                                                                  
11:07:42 AM                                                                                                                   
TONY  KALISS,  representing  self,  Anchorage,  Alaska,  said  he                                                               
previously taught  for nine years  in Utqiagvik in  rural Alaska.                                                               
He offered his  view that SB 39 is one  of many voter suppression                                                               
bills in  the U.S. whose goal  is to restrict voting.  He offered                                                               
his belief that these bills  are undemocratic bills. The U.S. has                                                               
a  long  history  of  practices  that  restricted  women,  Native                                                               
Americans, and Blacks  from voting. This is not  a tradition that                                                               
should continue, he said. On the  other hand, the U.S. also has a                                                               
tradition  of   working  to   expand  voting   rights,  including                                                               
instituting automatic  voter registration via the  permanent fund                                                               
dividend and  providing voting materials in  Native languages. He                                                               
supported  the  provision  in  SB   39  that  will  allow  tribal                                                               
identification  cards to  be used.  He said  the state  should do                                                               
everything possible to  make voting easy and  accessible. He said                                                               
he agreed  with the  issues raised  about blockchain  and digital                                                               
multi-factor authentication,  which makes it much  more difficult                                                               
for ordinary people to vote.                                                                                                    
11:10:52 AM                                                                                                                   
JOAN DIAMOND,  representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska,  stated she                                                               
is a  50-year Alaska  resident. She spoke  against SB  39, noting                                                               
that she  agreed with  many of  the comments  previous testifiers                                                               
made. She  said she wants  voting to  be accessible and  easy for                                                               
Alaskans and recognizes  that the Division of  Elections has done                                                               
a good job.                                                                                                                     
11:11:27 AM                                                                                                                   
NICKY  EISEMAM, representing  self, Fairbanks,  Alaska, spoke  in                                                               
opposition to SB  39 for many of the  reasons previous testifiers                                                               
gave. She  stated that she has  been a resident for  45 years and                                                               
has worked  as an election  official for five years.  She offered                                                               
her view that  Alaska and the U.S. experience  low voter turnout.                                                               
The state should look for ways  to increase voter turnout and not                                                               
decrease  it and  focus on  voters  being disenfranchised  rather                                                               
than looking  for problems that do  not exist. She said  the term                                                               
"ballot  harvesting" is  broad.  She expressed  concern that  the                                                               
language in SB 39 may create  concern that people will face class                                                               
A misdemeanor penalties  if they take their  neighbor's ballot to                                                               
a mail  drop box.  She said  it seems  wrong to  threaten someone                                                               
with jail time  for helping someone vote. She  offered her belief                                                               
that  the intent  of the  bill  is voter  suppression. She  urged                                                               
members not to move the bill forward.                                                                                           
11:14:31 AM                                                                                                                   
EVAN ANDERSON,  Alaska Center Education Fund,  Anchorage, Alaska,                                                               
voiced opposition to SB 39.  [Mr. Anderson's call was dropped due                                                               
to  technical difficulties.  He  resumed his  testimony at  11:21                                                               
11:15:54 AM                                                                                                                   
CHANDRA  CAFFROY,  Alaskans   for  Constitutional  Rights  (ACR),                                                               
Homer, Alaska, offered  ACR's support for SB 39.  She offered her                                                               
belief  that this  bill does  not  go far  enough. She  expressed                                                               
concern about  inaccurate voter rolls,  the Division  of Election                                                               
being  hacked  and  voter  fraud.   This  does  not  give  people                                                               
confidence  in the  election process  or the  lieutenant governor                                                               
who has authority over elections in Alaska, she said.                                                                           
11:17:47 AM                                                                                                                   
KELLY  NASH,  representing  self,  Fairbanks,  Alaska,  spoke  in                                                               
support of SB  39 due to voter fraud. She  expressed concern that                                                               
voter information  was hacked.  She said  she was  surprised that                                                               
people opposed the  bill since voter integrity  is important. She                                                               
suggested that since  people can vote absentee, it  really is not                                                               
necessary  for someone  to pick  up their  ballots. She  spoke in                                                               
support  of the  multi-factor authentication  requirement in  the                                                               
bill  but would  prefer the  state used  paper ballots  to reduce                                                               
voter fraud.                                                                                                                    
11:19:41 AM                                                                                                                   
JEAN HOLT,  representing self, Palmer,  Alaska, spoke  in support                                                               
of SB  39 and  any other bills  that support  election integrity.                                                               
She offered her  belief that every legal vote  should be counted.                                                               
The  legislature  needs  to  commit   to  the  integrity  of  the                                                               
elections and restore the process for all Alaskans.                                                                             
11:20:55 AM                                                                                                                   
EVAN ANDERSON,  Alaska Center Education Fund,  Anchorage, Alaska,                                                               
resumed his testimony.  He stated that he  applauds the committee                                                               
for   working   together   to  tackle   election   security   and                                                               
modernization,  but  he  opposes  SB  39.  He  cautioned  against                                                               
specifying  the   three  or  four  vendors   for  the  blockchain                                                               
technology listed in  the bill. Writing that  type of specificity                                                               
into statute  creates a directive  for the Division  of Elections                                                               
to follow.  These are good  suggestions but  if the bill  were to                                                               
pass  the   division  would  need   to  implement   these  costly                                                               
solutions. Another  area of specificity  is the  Interstate Voter                                                               
Registration  Crosscheck Program  in the  bill. He  said that  at                                                               
least  11 states  have dropped  this  program in  the last  three                                                               
years  because of  issues with  fraud and  technology issues.  He                                                               
offered  his   view  that  the   state's  affiliation   with  the                                                               
Electronic  Registration Information  Center (ERIC)  is a  strong                                                               
one that he would like to see continued.                                                                                        
11:22:22 AM                                                                                                                   
RUBEN ANDERSON,  representing self,  Fairbanks, Alaska,  spoke in                                                               
support  of SB  39 to  tighten  up Alaska's  election system.  He                                                               
spoke  in  favor of  chain  of  custody, voter  registration  and                                                               
signature  verification  requirements in  the  bill.  He said  he                                                               
found the  voter suppression label  given to SB 39  offensive and                                                               
ridiculous.  He expressed  concern  about the  2020 election.  He                                                               
spoke  in   support  of  strengthening  election   integrity.  He                                                               
suggested that  if people can  go to  the grocery store  or bank,                                                               
they can  go to a  polling place. He  said that people  want fair                                                               
elections where all legal votes count but illegal votes do not.                                                                 
11:24:41 AM                                                                                                                   
CHRISTINE HUTCHINSON, representing self,  Kenai, Alaska, spoke in                                                               
support of SB 39. She agreed  with the previous speaker that this                                                               
is not  a voter  suppression bill.  She said  she supports  SB 39                                                               
because it provides  direction in the election  process that will                                                               
improve  elections  and  restore integrity.  She  emphasized  the                                                               
importance  of knowing  what happens  to  ballots. She  expressed                                                               
concern that  the general  public does  not fully  understand how                                                               
elections work. Thus, it is  important for the legislature to pay                                                               
attention to  the details  and tighten  up the  election process.                                                               
She  offered her  view that  even if  it is  more difficult,  the                                                               
option to vote is still available to people.                                                                                    
11:26:56 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND, after first determining  no one wished to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony on SB 39.                                                                                               
[SB 39 was held in committee.]                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 39 v.N PPT.pdf SJUD 5/8/2021 10:00:00 AM
SB 39