Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205
03/11/2021 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS
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SB 83-ELECTIONS; VOTING; BALLOT REQS 4:01:38 PM CHAIR SHOWER announced the consideration of SENATE BILL NO. 83 "An Act relating to elections; and providing for an effective date." 4:01:57 PM CHAIR SHOWER opened public testimony on SB 83. 4:02:14 PM MORGAN LIM, Planned Parenthood Votes, Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH), Juneau, Alaska, stated strong opposition to SB 83 and support for policies that make it convenient for all who are eligible to register to vote and cast a ballot. He opined that SB 83 makes it more difficult to vote by imposing burdensome voter identification requirements on absentee voters and limits in-person voting for communities with a population of 750 or fewer. He characterized SB 83 as "part of a nationwide voter suppression trend as too many politicians try to manipulate the outcome of elections by making it harder to cast a ballot." 4:04:36 PM JEANNETTE LEE, Community Democracy Researcher, Sightline Institute, Anchorage, Alaska, suggested the committee reexamine the need for the witness signature as it considers the changes to voter identifying information on absentee ballots. She described it as an unnecessary regulation because it is not clear that this makes the election more secure. She highlighted that documents in the 2020 court case on the topic verified that the state has no process to check the legitimacy of the witness signatures. When the judge asked whether the requirement had ever played a role in detecting fraud, court documents indicated, "the state could not identify any such instance in recent memory and was not sure whether it had played a role in the distant past." MS. LEE stated, "Our research has shown that the Division of Election's requirement to provide identifying information like date of birth is a more effective check; and yet, in election after election enforcement of what is essentially an empty gesture has disenfranchised hundreds of eligible absentee voters." She urged the legislature to permanently do away with the regulation and replace it with a robust signature verification process and ballot cure option that allows voters to fix errors on ballot envelops. 4:07:29 PM KENDRA KLOSTER, Executive Director, Native Peoples Action (NPA), Anchorage, Alaska, stated agreement with much of the previous testimony. She said she was pleased that the state did away with the witness signature requirement during the last election and she believes it should be permanent for the reasons that Ms. Lee stated. MS. KLOSTER described the provision for the only-vote-by-mail option for communities with populations of 750 or less as problematic. She said NPA has done many studies and reports on the need for both a vote by mail and an in-person voting option for all communities. She encouraged working with tribal communities and communities to talk through the different options. She offered to work with the sponsor or this and subsequent committees to improve the bill. CHAIR SHOWER suggested she work with his office because his bill, SB 39) incorporates many of the things that testifiers have mentioned. 4:10:05 PM CHAIR SHOWER found no other testifiers and closed public testimony on SB 83. CHAIR SHOWER held SB 83 in committee.