Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

05/02/2019 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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03:34:45 PM Start
03:35:22 PM SB116
04:12:19 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Uniform Rule 23(a) Waived --
-- Meeting Rescheduled from 5/1/19 --
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                          May 2, 2019                                                                                           
                           3:34 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Mike Shower, Chair                                                                                                      
Senator John Coghill, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Lora Reinbold                                                                                                           
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
Senator Scott Kawasaki                                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 116                                                                                                             
"An   Act   relating  to   elections   and   voter   registration;                                                              
designating  as  a  class  C felony  the  intentional  opening  or                                                              
tampering  with   certain  election  materials;   establishing  an                                                              
election offense hotline; and providing  for an effective date."                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 116                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: BALLOT CUSTODY/TAMPERING; VOTER REG                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) SHOWER                                                                                                   
04/24/19       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/24/19       (S)       STA, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
04/30/19       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/30/19       (S)       -- Meeting Postponed to 5/1/19 at 3:30                                                                 
                         p.m. --                                                                                                
05/01/19       (S)       STA WAIVED PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE, RULE                                                                 
05/01/19       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
05/01/19       (S)       -- Meeting Rescheduled to 5/2/19 --                                                                    
05/02/19       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SCOTT OGAN, Staff                                                                                                               
Senator Mike Shower                                                                                                             
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Delivered the  sectional analysis for SB 116.                                                             
TERRANCE SHANIGAN, Staff                                                                                                        
Senator Mike Shower                                                                                                             
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Provided information related to SB 116.                                                                   
GAIL FENUMIAI, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Elections                                                                                                           
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions  and provided  information                                                            
related to SB 116.                                                                                                              
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:34:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MIKE  SHOWER  called  the  Senate  State  Affairs  Standing                                                            
Committee meeting  to order  at 3:34 p.m.  Present at the  call to                                                              
order  were  Senators  Reinbold,   Coghill,  Micciche,  and  Chair                                                              
Shower. Senator Kawasaki arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                
           SB 116-BALLOT CUSTODY/TAMPERING; VOTER REG                                                                       
3:35:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER announced  the consideration of SENATE  BILL NO. 116,                                                              
"An   Act   relating  to   elections   and   voter   registration;                                                              
designating  as  a  class  C felony  the  intentional  opening  or                                                              
tampering  with   certain  election  materials;   establishing  an                                                              
election offense hotline; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
He stated  that this  is the first  hearing and  the intent  is to                                                              
hear  the introduction,  go  through  the sectional  analysis  and                                                              
take committee questions.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  SHOWER, speaking  as  sponsor,  introduced  SB 116  reading                                                              
from  the  following  sponsor  statement:   [Original  punctuation                                                              
     Election integrity  matters. Every vote counts.  Gaps in                                                                   
     the  current  law have  changed  the outcome  of  recent                                                                   
     elections. In  2019 one vote was not counted  because of                                                                   
     the  automatic  mandatory   voter  registration  on  the                                                                   
     Permanent  Fund  application.  Other  elections  in  the                                                                   
     recent past  have been called  into question  because of                                                                   
     ambiguous  election   protocol  policy.   Patriots  have                                                                   
     given their  last full measure  for the sacred  right to                                                                   
     elect  our  representatives  in our  republic.  We  hold                                                                   
     that sacrifice sacred.                                                                                                     
     SB 116 codifies  strict chain of custody  protocols into                                                                   
     the  handling  of  ballots   and  election  reports.  It                                                                   
     mandates  that  all ballots  be  in  a strict  chain  of                                                                   
     custody  all the way  back to  a central location  where                                                                   
     they  can  be  destroyed after  all  ballots  have  been                                                                   
     accounted for  by the Elections Board.  Current practice                                                                   
     allows  ballots  to  be destroyed  in  precinct  without                                                                   
     central accounting.                                                                                                        
     SB   116  requires   the   director   to  establish   in                                                                   
     regulation,   best  practices   for  chain  of   custody                                                                   
     protocols,  and  provides  affected  parties  reasonable                                                                   
     notice  for ballot  handling observation  opportunities.                                                                   
     It establishes  an election offence hotline  number that                                                                   
     is  conspicuously posted  at  polling areas  and on  the                                                                   
     election  privacy  envelopes.  It  "deputizes"  citizens                                                                   
     and  every   voter  becomes   empowered,  if  they   see                                                                   
     something,  they can now  effectively say something.  It                                                                   
     requires  election  workers  to immediately  notify  the                                                                   
     Director  of  any  irregularities, then  allows  for  an                                                                   
     audit  of ballots  in  precinct, immediately  after  the                                                                   
     There   are  no   better   checks  and   balances   than                                                                   
     empowering   voters   themselves  to   become   election                                                                   
     Other Highlights in the bill:                                                                                              
     ?  Requires reasonable  notice  to affected  parties  of                                                                   
     ballot handling out of chain of custody;                                                                                   
     ?  Eliminates  mandatory PFD  voter's  registration  and                                                                   
     converts it to "opt in";                                                                                                   
     ? Codifies  the Division of  Elections to notify  voters                                                                   
     if their ballot was not counted;                                                                                           
     ?  Does  not  allow  the Director  or  Lt.  Governor  to                                                                   
     certify  the   results  until  every  ballot   has  been                                                                   
     accounted for;                                                                                                             
     ?   Requires  electronic   and  paper   ballots  to   be                                                                   
     destroyed   at  a  single   location,  only  after   the                                                                   
     director    expressly   authorizes    destruction    and                                                                   
     subsequently  certifies  via  public  notary,  that  the                                                                   
     ballots and paper records have been destroyed;                                                                             
     ? Prohibits facsimile voting;                                                                                              
     ? Makes  it a  Class C Felony  to intentionally  open or                                                                   
     tamper  with ballots without  the express  authorization                                                                   
     of the Director                                                                                                            
CHAIR SHOWER  related the  intent is to  improve the  integrity of                                                              
the  election process.  He  advised that  the  election system  is                                                              
currently under  audit so the bill  won't move forward  until that                                                              
is complete and the suggestions and findings are analyzed.                                                                      
3:39:01 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT OGAN, Staff, Senator Mike Shower, Alaska State                                                                            
Legislature, Juneau, introduced himself.                                                                                        
TERRANCE SHANIGAN, Staff, Senator Mike Shower, Alaska State                                                                     
Legislature, Juneau, introduced himself.                                                                                        
3:39:18 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. OGAN delivered the following sectional analysis for SB 116:                                                                 
     Section 1:  Codifies opt in  to register to vote  on the                                                                   
     PFD application.                                                                                                           
     Section 2:  Eliminates facsimile language changes  it to                                                                   
     form of electronic transmission.                                                                                           
     Section 3:  Clarifies that  the division shall  register                                                                   
     Section   4:  Cleans   up   language   with  new   voter                                                                   
     registration protocols.                                                                                                    
     Section  5:  Applicant  must  expressly  request  to  be                                                                   
     registered to vote.                                                                                                        
     Section 6:  Adds new section  requiring the  director to                                                                   
     establish  by  regulation  a  strict  chain  of  custody                                                                   
          1. All ballots will be returned to a single point                                                                     
          of receipt.                                                                                                           
          2. Digital reports treated with same chain of                                                                         
          custody protocols.                                                                                                    
          3. All ballots must be accounted for before the                                                                       
          election can be certified.                                                                                            
          4.  Breaks  in  chain   of  custody,  requires  the                                                                   
          director  to notify the  Attorney General,  the Lt.                                                                   
          Governor,  each  affected candidate,  or  organized                                                                   
          group  that sponsors  or  opposes an  issue on  the                                                                   
          5. Requires  the director to give 24  hours' notice                                                                   
          to said  groups of any planned breaks  in the chain                                                                   
          of custody.                                                                                                           
          6. Election  workers that  see an irregularity  can                                                                   
          call  for  a  hand audit  of  ballots  and  records                                                                   
          immediately after the polls close.                                                                                    
          7. Election  offense hotline is established  during                                                                   
          voter  hours  to  receive citizen  reports  of  any                                                                   
          observed    irregularities.     Signs    will    be                                                                   
          conspicuously  posted  at  polling  places  and  on                                                                   
          ballot envelopes and voting machines.                                                                                 
     Section  7: Requires  the Division  to provide  election                                                                   
     offense notices and requires the notices to be posted.                                                                     
     Section  8: Outlines  protocols  for voter  notification                                                                   
     if  their vote  is  not counted  and  how  to avoid  the                                                                   
     issue in the future.                                                                                                       
     Section  9: The director  may not  certify the  election                                                                   
     until each ballot or paper record is accounted for.                                                                        
     Section 10:  Outlines protocols for ballot  destruction.                                                                   
     Requires a  notarized statement of destruction  from the                                                                   
     Section 11: Prohibits voting by facsimile.                                                                                 
     Section 12:  Conforming language with  electronic voting                                                                   
     Section  13:  Adds  "opens  or tampers"  with  a  sealed                                                                   
     ballot   certificate,   or  ballot   packages,   without                                                                   
     express authorization from the director.                                                                                   
3:46:10 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REINBOLD asked if this addresses the potential for                                                                      
tampering associated with mail-in ballots for Anchorage                                                                         
municipal elections.                                                                                                            
MR. OGAN clarified that the bill does not apply to municipal                                                                    
SENATOR  REINBOLD   opined  that  the  discussion   about  mail-in                                                              
ballots for  municipal elections needs  to continue and  it should                                                              
be in the context of this bill. She stated support for SB 116.                                                                  
CHAIR  SHOWER  related  that  the   states  his  office  contacted                                                              
generally  have  not given  a  lot  of  thought to  the  integrity                                                              
issues associated  with mailed ballots.  Those states  claim their                                                              
systems  work great,  but he  doesn't buy  it if  they don't  have                                                              
verification  protocols in place.  He said  his office  is looking                                                              
at ways  to tighten Alaska's  voting system  but at this  point he                                                              
doesn't  see any  good  answers to  the  problems associated  with                                                              
mailed ballots.  He clarified that  this is an ongoing  discussion                                                              
and he welcomes any and all feedback.                                                                                           
MR. OGAN said he'd  be happy to look into the  authority the state                                                              
has to look into municipal elections if directed to do so.                                                                      
CHAIR SHOWER  said he  believes in  decision-making at  the lowest                                                              
possible level, but it doesn't hurt  to ask about the authority.                                                                
3:50:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL said  he doesn't know about the  legality of state                                                              
overreach into municipal  elections, but while discussing  the new                                                              
system  "it might  be interesting  to  hear what  that might  look                                                              
like both for us and the municipals."                                                                                           
MR. OGAN continued the sectional analysis for SB 116.                                                                           
        Section 14: Conforming language to opt in voter                                                                         
     Section 15: Additional conforming language for opt in                                                                      
     voter registration.                                                                                                        
     Section 16: Codifies date of when the changes in bill                                                                      
         Section 17: Authorizes the department to adopt                                                                         
     necessary transition regulations.                                                                                          
     Section 18: Establishes the effective date for Sec. 17                                                                     
       Section 19: Establishes the effective date for the                                                                       
     rest of the bill.                                                                                                          
     Please Note:  Sections 1-5, and  14 & 15 are  clarifying                                                                   
     and  technical  sections  that all  revolve  around  the                                                                   
     main policy  call change in this bill that  ensures that                                                                   
     a dividend  applicant  must request  to be a  registered                                                                   
     voter,   changing  from  current   law  where   dividend                                                                   
     applicants    become   voters   automatically    without                                                                   
     expressed permission.                                                                                                      
3:51:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SHANIGAN  suggested that  the  director  of the  Division  of                                                              
Elections may  be able to  answer questions about  mail-in ballots                                                              
and the state's ability to influence local elections.                                                                           
3:52:37 PM                                                                                                                    
GAIL   FENUMIAI,   Director,  Division   of   Elections,   Juneau,                                                              
explained that  the Municipality  of Anchorage (MOA)  receives the                                                              
list  of registered  voters  from the  Division  of Elections  and                                                              
that any  registered voter who claims  an intent to return  to the                                                              
state remains  on the list.  She said the  onus is largely  on the                                                              
individual to notify  the division that they wish  to cancel their                                                              
registration,   because  the  division   cannot  cancel   a  voter                                                              
registration  without  written notice  from  the  voter. She  also                                                              
described the process  of notification from other  state elections                                                              
offices and  the cross-state project  to match voter  registration                                                              
lists with other states, all of which help with accuracy.                                                                       
SENATOR  REINBOLD asked  if she  had an  idea of  how many  people                                                              
aren't  residing in  Alaska  and  voting but  claim  an intent  to                                                              
return to the state.                                                                                                            
MS. FENUMIAI answered  that she didn't know. About  550,000 people                                                              
are  registered  but  the  division doesn't  track  how  many  are                                                              
physically present in the state.                                                                                                
SENATOR  REINBOLD  said  she's  trying  to  figure  out  how  many                                                              
ballots are sent  out that never reach the addressee  because they                                                              
aren't  living in  the state.  She cited  the example  of her  two                                                              
sons  who aren't  in  the state  right  now but  received  mail-in                                                              
ballots  from  the MOA.  She  asked  if  there  is a  penalty  for                                                              
tampering with municipal mail-in ballots.                                                                                       
MS.  FENUMIAI said  she didn't  know but  the division  encourages                                                              
residents to return  any elections mail that is not  theirs so the                                                              
division can update its records.                                                                                                
SENATOR REINBOLD  expressed surprise  that it's up  to individuals                                                              
to contact the division when they leave the state.                                                                              
CHAIR SHOWER  asked her  to talk about  the timeline  for updating                                                              
the division's records.                                                                                                         
3:56:11 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI explained  that the  division  conducts annual  list                                                              
maintenance as  required by the  National Voter Registration  Act.                                                              
This entails  a four-year lookback to  see who has not  voted, has                                                              
had mail  returned  as undeliverable,  or who  has had no  contact                                                              
with  the division.  Those individuals  are sent  two notices.  If                                                              
they don't respond  to the second notice within 45  days, they are                                                              
placed  in  inactive   status  and  will  remain   there  for  the                                                              
following  two general  elections  after  which they  are  removed                                                              
from the rolls.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR REINBOLD restated  that she is not a fan  of blanket mail-                                                              
in ballots.  She clarified  that she has  no complaints  about the                                                              
work Ms.  Fenumiai  does or with  the Division  of Elections.  She                                                              
extended her thanks to Ms. Fenumiai for the work she does.'                                                                     
CHAIR SHOWER added  that he, too, has had good  experience working                                                              
with Ms. Fenumiai and the division generally.                                                                                   
3:58:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL thanked  the sponsor for introducing  the bill. He                                                              
said  he particularly  likes  the opt-in  for  the permanent  fund                                                              
dividend but wonders if there may be procedural glitches.                                                                       
MS.  FENUMIAI answered  no; it  will  relieve some  administrative                                                              
burden  which  will help  because  the  division did  not  receive                                                              
additional funding when the opt-in process was implemented.                                                                     
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  about the  timing to  replace the  current                                                              
voting system and  how the new system will help  with the proposed                                                              
chain of custody requirements.                                                                                                  
MS.  FENUMIAI said  the division  hopes to  identify a  successful                                                              
bidder within  the next  couple of  weeks and  sign a  contract in                                                              
July. The  new system will be  similar to the current  system with                                                              
paper ballots and  an accessible voting unit in  every precinct as                                                              
required by the Help America Vote Act.                                                                                          
SENATOR COGHILL asked  if the chain of custody will  be similar to                                                              
the existing system.                                                                                                            
MS.  FENUMIAI said  the bill  has some  fairly heavy  requirements                                                              
for post-election  ballot tracking  and the  division has  to look                                                              
at those to determine what processes will need to change.                                                                       
SENATOR  COGHILL  commented that  he,  too, thought  the  proposed                                                              
requirements  were  heavy-handed and  that  he wasn't  aware  that                                                              
Alaska had  anything other than  technical glitches in any  of its                                                              
elections. He  referenced the chain  of custody section  and asked                                                              
if  on page  4, line  9, the  term "ballot  accounting" should  be                                                              
changed to "ballot auditing."                                                                                                   
MS.  FENUMIAI  replied  the  State  Review  Board  currently  does                                                              
what's  called  an  audit  of the  election.  This  entails  going                                                              
through every precinct  register to compare the  number of ballots                                                              
counted  by  the electronic  voting  equipment  to the  number  of                                                              
ballots  that were  reported and  the signatures  in the  precinct                                                              
register. The same  process is followed for question  and absentee                                                              
4:02:34 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   COGHILL  asked   her   thoughts   on  the   difficulties                                                              
associated  with staff recruitment  and training  as the  election                                                              
system becomes more technical in nature.                                                                                        
MS.  FENUMIAI  said that  could  be  a  real problem  because  the                                                              
division already  relies on these individuals to  perform the bulk                                                              
of   the  duties   on   Election   Day.  They   have   a  lot   of                                                              
responsibility,  the hours  are long,  and they're  not paid  very                                                              
much. She  said the training  for the 2020  election will  be more                                                              
intense due to  the new ballot tabulation system  and the division                                                              
will  also  try  to  ensure  that  everyone  understands  any  new                                                              
policies and procedures.  "It is a big undertaking  to implement a                                                              
new ballot  tabulation system and so  to implement that  on top of                                                              
some   pretty  significant   other   changes   is   going  to   be                                                              
challenging," she said.                                                                                                         
CHAIR  SHOWER  asked Mr.  Ogan  to  respond to  Senator  Coghill's                                                              
question about chain of custody.                                                                                                
4:05:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. OGAN  advised that  the bill  allows the  division to  develop                                                              
best  practices  regulations  related  to  chain  of  custody  and                                                              
ensuring that  all the  ballots are returned  to the  division. He                                                              
noted that he's  been very impressed with the  division's existing                                                              
4:07:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI joined the committee.                                                                                          
SENATOR  COGHILL said  he imagines  that the  election hotline  is                                                              
heavily  used during  primary  elections,  general elections,  and                                                              
during  the  counting  and certification  process.  He  asked  her                                                              
perspective of the hotline.                                                                                                     
MS.  FENUMIAI  said  the  division   already  has  a  hotline  for                                                              
individuals   to  call  and   file  complaints   because   it's  a                                                              
requirement  of  the Help  America  Vote  Act. That  number  could                                                              
probably  be used  to  fulfill the  requirements  of the  proposed                                                              
statute.   She   clarified   that  the   division   collects   the                                                              
information  but  it  does  not  have  an  investigative  unit  to                                                              
research  every complaint.  That will  need to  be discussed,  she                                                              
4:08:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SHOWER said  voting  is one  of  the more  important  civic                                                              
duties that  should be honored by  ensuring that the system  is as                                                              
good as  possible. He  related that in  2003 after Saddam  Hussein                                                              
was  gone, Iraqi  citizens risked  their  lives for  the right  to                                                              
MR. OGAN shared an anecdote.                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI said  the division looks forward to  working with the                                                              
sponsor and committee going forward.                                                                                            
CHAIR SHOWER held SB 116 in committee.                                                                                          
4:12:19 PM                                                                                                                    
There  being no  further business  to come  before the  committee,                                                              
Chair  Shower   adjourned  the   Senate  State  Affairs   Standing                                                              
Committee meeting at 4:12 pm.                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 116 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 5/2/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 116
SB 116 Ver. S.PDF SSTA 5/2/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 116
SB 116 - Sectional Analysis.pdf SSTA 5/2/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 116
SB 116 - Fiscal Note - DOE.pdf SSTA 5/2/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 116
SB 116 - Fiscal Note - PFD.pdf SSTA 5/2/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 116