Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

01/28/2021 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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03:32:42 PM Start
03:33:24 PM SB39
05:02:14 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                        January 28, 2021                                                                                        
                           3:32 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Mike Shower, Chair                                                                                                      
Senator Lora Reinbold, Vice Chair                                                                                               
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
Senator Roger Holland                                                                                                           
Senator Scott Kawasaki                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present.                                                                                                            
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
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."                                                                             
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record.                                                                                                   
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SCOTT OGAN, Staff                                                                                                               
Senator Mike Shower                                                                                                             
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION   STATEMENT:  Delivered   the  sectional   analysis  and                                                             
answered questions about SB 39 on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                        
TERRENCE SHANIGAN, Staff                                                                                                        
Senator Mike Shower                                                                                                             
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided information and  answered questions                                                             
related to SB 39 on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                                      
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:32:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MIKE  SHOWER  called  the Senate  State  Affairs  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 3:32  p.m. Present at  the call to                                                               
order were  Senators, Reinbold, Costello,  Kawasaki, Holland, and                                                               
Chair Shower.                                                                                                                   
        SB 39: Ballot Custody/Tampering; Voter Reg; Mail                                                                    
3:33:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER  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."                                                                             
3:33:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SHOWER read  the  sponsor statement  for  SB 39  [Original                                                               
punctuation provided.]:                                                                                                         
     Election  integrity   matters.    Every   vote  counts.                                                                    
     Election  integrity  is a  concern  for  many that  has                                                                    
     influenced Alaskan  elections for  too long.   Chain of                                                                    
     Custody  is the  foundation of  ballot  integrity. SB39                                                                    
     was  written to  allow  a comprehensive  look at  every                                                                    
     chain  of custody  issue in  Alaska. The  focus  of the                                                                    
     bill, which I first  filed in 2019, is to insure ballot                                                                    
     chain of custody and  election integrity. Once you lose                                                                    
     chain  of  custody,  you  lose  ballot  integrity.    I                                                                    
     support  mail-in voting and  utilized it  throughout my                                                                    
     24-year military career.                                                                                                   
     Elections  should not be  called into  question because                                                                    
     of ambiguous election protocol  policy.  SB 39 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   39  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.     Every  voter  becomes                                                                    
     empowered,  if   they  see  something,  they   can  now                                                                    
     effectively  report  irregularities  or concerns.    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 at  the most  local level                                                                    
     possible to become informal election observers.                                                                            
3:35:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER stated his intention "to listen to all sides and                                                                   
make voting, including mail-in voting, more secure so Alaskans                                                                  
can be confident in their election system."                                                                                     
3:37:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT OGAN, Staff, Senator Mike Shower, Alaska State                                                                            
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, paraphrased the following sectional                                                                
analysis for SB 39:                                                                                                             
    Section 1, Amends AS 15.07.050(a), eliminating automatic                                                                
     PFD applicant voter  registration and providing for PFD                                                                    
     applicant voter registration by checking a box to request                                                                  
       Section 2, Amends 15.07.060(e) to provide for PFD                                                                      
     applicant voter registration but  only if the applicant                                                                    
     requests to register.                                                                                                      
     Section 3. Amends AS  15.07.070(i) so the division only                                                                  
     registers PFD applicants who request to register,                                                                          
     Section 4. Amends AS 15.07.070(k) to require the director                                                                
     to  register and notify  only those  PFD applicants who                                                                    
     requested to register to vote.                                                                                             
   Section 5, Amends 15.07.070(l), requiring a PFD applicant                                                                  
     request to be registered before their name is placed on                                                                    
     the master register.                                                                                                       
     Section  6. Mandates  a  ballot security  and  chain of                                                                  
     custody  protocol  to  track  ballots,  absentee ballot                                                                    
     certificates  and  envelopes,  and   paper  records  of                                                                    
     electronically generated ballots. Establishes a toll-free                                                                  
     election  offense hotline  and requires  the  number be                                                                    
     placed on voting machines and election materials.                                                                          
     Section  7, Requires  the director to  provide election                                                                  
     board  notices with  the election offense  hotline. Two                                                                    
     notices  must be  posted  in  each polling  place in  a                                                                    
     conspicuous location.                                                                                                      
     Section   8.  Amends  AS   15.15.250,  requiring   that                                                                  
     spoiled  ballots  be  marked  and  sealed  rather  than                                                                    
     Section  9.  Requires   that  the  director  provide  a                                                                  
     voter  notice if  the voter's  ballot  was not  counted                                                                    
     because  the voter was not  a resident of the  state or                                                                    
     house district  in which the  voter sought to vote.                                                                        
     Section  10.   Provides  that  elections   may  not  be                                                                  
     certified  by  the  director  or  lieutenant   governor                                                                    
     until  each original  ballot  and record  is  accounted                                                                    
     Section  11. Amends  AS 15.15.470,  requiring  that all                                                                  
     ballots  and stubs  for elections  be  retained  for 22                                                                    
     months.  Mandates  ballot,  certificate,  and  envelope                                                                    
     destruction  at  a single  location,  witnessed by  the                                                                    
     director   or  their   designee,   and  then   director                                                                    
     certification  of destruction.                                                                                             
     Section   12.  Amends  AS   15.20.066(a)   to  prohibit                                                                  
     absentee  voting by facsimile  in state elections.                                                                         
3:40:16 PM                                                                                                                    
     Section  13.  Amends  AS 15.20.081(a)  to  provide  for                                                                  
     email absentee  ballot transmission.                                                                                       
     Section  14. Amends  AS 15.20.08l(d)  and requires  the                                                                  
     division,  in   the  event  a  court  invalidates   the                                                                    
     absentee   ballot    witness   signature    during   an                                                                    
     emergency  declared  under  AS  26.23, to  enforce  the                                                                    
     witness  signature  after  the  emergency  declaration                                                                     
     Section  15. Amends  AS  15.20.08l(e)  to require  that                                                                  
     all absentee  ballots  received after  election  day be                                                                    
     postmarked  on or before election  day.                                                                                    
    Section  16. Amends  AS  15.20.20l(b),  requiring  that                                                                   
     reviewed  absentee   ballots  be  counted  as  soon  as                                                                    
     possible  after review and  prohibiting counting  delay                                                                    
     to determine  whether a  voter voted more  than once in                                                                    
     the election.                                                                                                              
     Section  17. Amends  AS 15.20.220(a)  and  adds a  name                                                                  
     comparison  to  the review  of  the  district  counting                                                                    
     board   certified  absentee   and   questioned   ballot                                                                    
     Section  18.  Amends  AS  15.56.035(a),  criminalizing                                                                   
     knowing   ballot  collection   unless  the  person   is                                                                    
     collecting  a single  ballot  and is  a family  member,                                                                    
     household  member,  caregiver  of  the  voter,  or  the                                                                    
     person  is engaged in  official duties  as an  election                                                                    
     official,    postal   worker,    commercial    delivery                                                                    
3:42:20 PM                                                                                                                    
     Section   19.  Defines  caregiver,   collects,   family                                                                  
     member, and  household member in AS  15.56.035.                                                                            
     Section  20.  Criminalizes   intentional  unauthorized                                                                   
     opening  or tampering  with  a sealed  absentee  ballot                                                                    
     certificate  or package of ballots.                                                                                        
     Section  21.   Requires  the  lieutenant   governor  to                                                                  
     notify   the   legislature   of   a   security   breach                                                                    
     affecting  a  voter registration  record  or  a  voting                                                                    
     Section  22.  Prohibits  a  general  law  municipality                                                                   
     (but  not a  home  rule municipality)  from  mailing  a                                                                    
     general  law  or special  election  ballot  to a  voter                                                                    
     who has not  affirmatively requested  to vote by mail.                                                                     
     Section  23.   Amends  43.23.0lS(b)   to  allow  a  PFD                                                                  
     applicant  to request to be registered  as a voter.                                                                        
    Section   24.   Amends  AS   43.23.101   so  that   the                                                                   
     Commissioner  of  Revenue  is  obligated  to  send  PFD                                                                    
     applicant  information  to  the Division  of  Elections                                                                    
     only when  the applicant  requests to be registered  to                                                                    
    Section   25.  Repeals   provisions   authorizing   the                                                                   
     Director  of  the  Division  of  Elections  to  conduct                                                                    
     elections  held  at  a time  other  than  the  general,                                                                    
     party primary,  or municipal  election by mail.                                                                            
     Section   26.  Provides  that   changes  made   to  PFD                                                                  
     applications    and  voter    registration   apply   to                                                                    
     applications  filed on or  after the effective  date of                                                                    
     the Act.                                                                                                                   
3:44:02 PM                                                                                                                    
     Section  27.  Provides  that the  offenses  enacted  by                                                                  
     the bill  apply to offenses  occurring on or  after the                                                                    
     effective  date of the Act.                                                                                                
     Section  28.   Transition  provision  authorizing   the                                                                  
     Department  of Revenue  and the  Division of  Elections                                                                    
     to adopt  regulations to implement  the Act.                                                                               
     Section  29. Establishes  an immediate  effective  date                                                                  
     for sec.  28.                                                                                                              
     Section  30. Establishes a January  1, 2022 effective                                                                    
     date for  the bill except as  provided in sec. 29.                                                                         
3:44:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER asked if there were technical questions about any                                                                  
of the sections.                                                                                                                
SENATOR REINBOLD referred to  Section 21 relating to notification                                                               
in the event of a  security breach of a voter registration record                                                               
or  voting machine.  She  suggested there  should  be a  specific                                                               
timeframe  in  which  the  lieutenant governor  must  notify  the                                                               
legislature of such a breach.                                                                                                   
CHAIR SHOWER replied his office would look at whether to add a                                                                  
more specific timeframe.                                                                                                        
3:46:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI highlighted  Sections 2, 12, and  13 relating to                                                               
facsimile  ballots.  He  asked how  many  facsimile  ballots  the                                                               
Division  of Elections  currently  receives and  where they  come                                                               
MR. OGAN answered  he did not have that information  but he would                                                               
follow up with the data once he received it.                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI  offered his  understanding that  ballots coming                                                               
from overseas, particularly from  members of the military, arrive                                                               
by  facsimile.  He  recalled  that   the  Division  of  Elections                                                               
confirmed  131  facsimile  ballots  in the  last  election.  "I'm                                                               
really  concerned with  the  military overseas  that  do use  FAX                                                               
machines," he said.                                                                                                             
CHAIR SHOWER  replied he would  take that into  consideration and                                                               
he  would also  investigate the  reason  that a  Democrat in  the                                                               
House requested the provision.                                                                                                  
3:47:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO  referenced Section 17  and asked if  the phrase                                                               
"comparing the names"  means a signature comparison  or record of                                                               
a person's name.                                                                                                                
MR. OGAN  replied the new phrase  is to ensure that  the names in                                                               
absentee and questioned  ballots are reconciled. He  said much of                                                               
this  currently is  done  by  policy and  putting  it in  statute                                                               
addresses  the  concern that  policy  can  change with  different                                                               
CHAIR  SHOWER  restated  that  because  policy  can  change,  the                                                               
legislature should define what it wants in statute.                                                                             
He asked  Mr. Shanigan talk  about some of the  policy, protocol,                                                               
and precedent that led to the bill.                                                                                             
3:49:24 PM                                                                                                                    
TERRENCE  SHANIGAN,  Staff,  Senator Mike  Shower,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau,  Alaska,  said  he would  begin  with  some                                                               
background information. He explained that  the precursor to SB 39                                                               
was  Senate Bill  116  that  was filed  in  2019.  It focused  on                                                               
policy,  protocol,  and  precedent,  recognizing  that  ambiguous                                                               
statutes had  created loose policy  and had taken  precedent over                                                               
qualitative  protocol.  He  said  policy  drives  a  lot  of  the                                                               
decisions  and practices  within  the Division  of Elections  and                                                               
policy changes  from one administration  to the next  can lead to                                                               
protocol changes such as  determining which votes count and which                                                               
do not  count. For that reason, the  legislature should make that                                                               
decision and place it in statute.                                                                                               
MR.  SHANNIGAN reported that  Senate Bill  116 stemmed  from some                                                               
significant Alaska  lawsuits. In 2018, the sponsor  and his staff                                                               
discussed what  happened in the District 40  race between Senator                                                               
Lisa Murkowski  and challenger Joe Miller  [Miller v. Treadwell],                                                               
the  District  40  race  between  Ben Nageak  and  Dean  Westlake                                                               
[Nageak v. Mallott], and  ballot issues that came up in Anchorage                                                               
during recounting in the Walker and Parnell race.                                                                               
He said  those cases revealed that ballots  could be destroyed at                                                               
the  precinct level; the  chain of  custody could be  broken; and                                                               
that  not  all ballots  came  back to  a  single repository.  The                                                               
sponsor's office also learned  that federal election laws require                                                               
the retention  of all ballots  and materials, which  they thought                                                               
was a good practice.  He noted that those early conversations did                                                               
not include  the small percentage  of ballots cast  using mail-in                                                               
MR.  SHANNIGAN related that  when Senate  Bill 116 did  not pass,                                                               
the  concern  was that  the  general level  of  error in  mail-in                                                               
voting would be magnified  when many more voters used that method                                                               
because of  Covid-19 concerns. He  posited that, "When  you put a                                                               
ten times multiplier on that  and go from 20,000 votes to 200,000                                                               
votes,  you  start to  swing  elections in  ways  that you  never                                                               
MR.  SHANNIGAN  stated that  Section  25  in  SB 39  specifically                                                               
addresses the issue of mail-in voting. He continued,                                                                            
     If we  don't...clean up the ambiguous  language and put                                                                    
     some codifying language  in that protects the integrity                                                                    
     of the  ballots and puts chain of  custody situations -                                                                    
     protocols  in place, if  we don't  do that, we  need to                                                                    
     seriously  consider  looking   at  our  mail-in  voting                                                                    
     system  and having  the debate  whether or  not  we can                                                                    
     afford   to   keep  it   because   there  are   certain                                                                    
3:56:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SHANNIGAN cited his  experience working as a state trooper to                                                               
emphasize  the  importance of  maintaining  chain  of custody  to                                                               
ensure the evidence  is not contaminated. He pointed  to the O.J.                                                               
Simpson trial as an example. The  chain of custody was broken and                                                               
the evidence became a cornerstone that eroded the case, he said.                                                                
He stated  that when the  sponsor looked at ballot  integrity, it                                                               
was  clear that  chain of  custody  is very  tight for  in-person                                                               
voting. He outlined  the process from the time  the ballot starts                                                               
at the  Division of Elections  until the voted ballot  is counted                                                               
and tabulated. He said that is a secure chain of custody.                                                                       
MR. SHANNIGAN said  a secure chain of custody does  not exist for                                                               
mail-in voting  in Alaska.  The chain of  custody is  broken when                                                               
the  ballot enters  the U.S.  Postal system  because unidentified                                                               
postal workers  touch the  ballot for an  unknown amount  of time                                                               
until it  reaches the voter's  house. The voted ballot  then goes                                                               
back  into  the U.S.  Postal  system  until  it  is back  at  the                                                               
Division  of Elections.  He said  that  process is  a problem  in                                                               
itself, but  it becomes more  a problem when 113,000  records are                                                               
lost and the data potentially  compromised, which happened during                                                               
the last election.                                                                                                              
He  said  the  situation  is further  complicated  when  citizens                                                               
receive more  than one  ballot, which also  happened in  the last                                                               
election.  The   sponsor's  office  talked  to   multiple  people                                                               
throughout  the state  who  received up  to  five ballots,  which                                                               
shows that  something is  wrong with the  state's voter  data. He                                                               
said, "We do know that 113,000  records are compromised and if we                                                               
do  nothing today,  we have  to  still reinvent  our system."  An                                                               
additional  concern  is that  ballots  can  be destroyed  at  the                                                               
precinct level, he said.                                                                                                        
MR.  SHANNIGAN  said it  is  a  concern that  municipalities  are                                                               
allowing  people to  use mail-in  voting. "The  same person  that                                                               
gets  five ballots  at the  state-level election  reported to  us                                                               
that they  received five ballots  at the municipal  election." He                                                               
said  the Division  of  Elections maintains  that  its system  is                                                               
clean, but the  Municipality of Anchorage receives  its data from                                                               
the state  system. He said, "We  need to figure out  how to clean                                                               
that information up."                                                                                                           
MR. SHANNIGAN  said auto  voter enrollment  tied to  the dividend                                                               
application  is  another problem  because  people  should not  be                                                               
forced to register.  Further, he said his office  has evidence of                                                               
a foreign  national who lived  in Alaska  for a year  and applied                                                               
for a  dividend. The dividend  was denied because the  person was                                                               
not eligible,  but they were auto registered  and they received a                                                               
ballot  for the  last  election. He  said  this raises  questions                                                               
about system integrity.                                                                                                         
4:01:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.   SHANNIGAN   said  registering   voters   through  the   PFD                                                               
application is  a good idea, but  it should be  one's choice. The                                                               
current  process is  that everyone  who applies  for  a permanent                                                               
fund dividend  (PFD) is automatically registered to  vote and the                                                               
sponsor  believes the  applicant  should check  a  box to  become                                                               
registered.  He said  another  problem with  the current  system,                                                               
which affects  many rural Alaskans,  is that the  address for the                                                               
PFD may not be the person's voting address.                                                                                     
He shared that  he was part of the Alaska  Native think tank that                                                               
talked  about the challenges  of voting  in rural Alaska  and how                                                               
important mail-in  and absentee voting can be.  He said there can                                                               
be exceptions  that don't hurt  the whole system,  but there must                                                               
be a system to  authenticate voter information. The first step is                                                               
to clean up the existing  statutes. "We've got a system where our                                                               
data is  corrupted and it's exposed.  And if we  do nothing about                                                               
it, we're setting ourselves up for big failure."                                                                                
MR.  SHANNIGAN emphasized  that SB  39 was  never  about stopping                                                               
mail-in voting. And  all the charges about it  being a race issue                                                               
are  dismissive  of  his  family  and  people he  knows  who  are                                                               
concerned about  what goes on  in his village.  He concluded, "By                                                               
putting the conversation on the  table - that if we do nothing we                                                               
should seriously consider the mail-in concerns."                                                                                
4:05:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SHOWER said  he appreciated  the background  because there                                                               
have been  misconceptions and his office has  had to explain that                                                               
the bill  does not do what  people have said it does.  He said he                                                               
believes in putting  all options on the table  for debate in this                                                               
statewide bill.  It will sink or swim  on its own. He  said it is                                                               
fine  that the bill  changes through  the amendment  process. "We                                                               
have  no ownership in  that particular  thing other than  to make                                                               
this better."                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SHOWER said  he  would highlight  several  points for  Mr.                                                               
Shannigan  or Mr.  Ogan  to discuss.  For example,  in  2016 when                                                               
automatic voter registration became  part of the PFD application,                                                               
one-third of  the voters  voted against it.  He said a  number of                                                               
people have  contacted his office to  say they do not  want to be                                                               
forced into the  voting system. That provision is in  the bill to                                                               
have  the debate  and find  a  compromise, he  said. "People  can                                                               
still select  that but if they  don't want that, it's  not forced                                                               
upon them."                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SHOWER explained the no mail-in provision:                                                                                
     There is a  section of this state, quite  a big section                                                                    
     actually, that  doesn't want mail-in at  all. There are                                                                    
     sections of  this state that want  nothing but mail-in.                                                                    
     I  think I  would find,  we  would find  a majority  of                                                                    
     Alaskans probably  don't mind where  it is now  as long                                                                    
     as it is secure. We  are trying to identify those areas                                                                    
     where it  is not secure,  where we can make  it better.                                                                    
     But  I  would  imagine  most Alaskans  would  like  the                                                                    
     option to be able to vote  in person. I would imagine a                                                                    
     lot  of   Alaskans  still  want  the   option  to  vote                                                                    
He listed some  of the reasons Alaskans may need  or want to vote                                                               
absentee, including being in the  military. He shared that he has                                                               
used absentee  voting many times and  said there is no  intent to                                                               
stop that.                                                                                                                      
CHAIR SHOWER  said people from  "multiple sides of  the equation"                                                               
contacted  his office  and he  believes everyone  should have  an                                                               
opportunity to discuss these issues  and figure out the best path                                                               
forward. He listed some of the  myths and falsehoods he has heard                                                               
about the bill.  These include: it eliminates  mail-in voting, it                                                               
eliminates  local control  by prohibiting  mail-in voting  at the                                                               
municipal level,  it eliminates registration to  vote through the                                                               
PFD application, it prevents people  from registering to vote, it                                                               
eliminates the  option to  vote through  absentee ballot,  and it                                                               
limits rural participation in voting.                                                                                           
He clarified his intent in filing SB 39:                                                                                        
     I want people to  understand from an intent perspective                                                                    
     of filing this bill and what  we put into it is to have                                                                    
     the discussion.  We have no  intent to do  those things                                                                    
     and I hope people will  see through this discussion and                                                                    
     debate process  and what we're  talking about  today is                                                                    
     that that's  not where we're  going with this  bill. It                                                                    
     was never the intention.                                                                                                   
     Even as  you said that  if we get  to a point  where we                                                                    
     find  that we're  unable to  secure our  voting system,                                                                    
     then maybe  we need to have the  discussion about mail-                                                                    
     in. How do we do it better if we can't?                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER said their  investigative process has identified the                                                               
possibility  for  error, but  there  has  been little  discussion                                                               
about fraud. He asked  Mr. Shannigan to comment on the difference                                                               
between fraud and error and how they affect the system overall.                                                                 
4:09:31 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SHANNIGAN said he first  wanted to point out that if the same                                                               
level of protocol integrity  were used for in-person voting as is                                                               
currently found in vote  by mail, precincts would be unmanned and                                                               
ballots would  be left on  a table with  a sign asking  people to                                                               
vote just one ballot. Then  the voted ballots would remain in the                                                               
precinct until they were collected some eight hours later.                                                                      
Regarding   fraud   versus   error,   he   explained   that   the                                                               
investigative  process focused almost  exclusively on  error. For                                                               
example, an evaluation of  the Walker versus Parnell race found a                                                               
very high  error rate in voters having  accurate knowledge of the                                                               
district in  which they were  registered. People who  went to the                                                               
wrong precinct  voted question  ballots and their  district votes                                                               
did not count. He said  the sponsor believes that the Division of                                                               
Elections should  notify voters  when their district  changes and                                                               
when their  vote did not count.  But notification as  a matter of                                                               
policy  is  not sufficient,  because  it  could  change from  one                                                               
administration to the next.                                                                                                     
MR. SHANNIGAN  also pointed out that  it is not  clear whether or                                                               
not  precinct  workers can  tell  if a  voter  who  comes to  the                                                               
precinct  has already  voted absentee.  Further, if  both  an in-                                                               
person and absentee  ballot are voted by the  same person, it may                                                               
or may not  be caught. But if the voter  votes a question ballot,                                                               
"it  neutralizes both  out," he  said. Who  decides  which ballot                                                               
counts  depends  on  the   policy  of  that  administration.  "As                                                               
Alaskans  we should be  concerned about  administrations choosing                                                               
whose  vote they're  going to  count and  whose they're  not," he                                                               
MR. SHANNIGAN stated that  it is the legislature's responsibility                                                               
to  propose  statutory changes  to  clean  up  elections and  the                                                               
sponsor is  taking an aggressive stance to  do so. Authenticating                                                               
the voter rolls will  eliminate the questions about whether there                                                               
should  or should  not  be mail-in  voting.  He highlighted  that                                                               
fraud represents  a very  small sliver of  the problems  with the                                                               
election system. The  problem is that the  system is error-ridden                                                               
because  of  loose  statutes  and  ambiguous  policy  upon  which                                                               
protocols are based.  He said we need a task  force that involves                                                               
citizens and local solutions.                                                                                                   
4:15:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SHANNIGAN   explained  that  Section  22   intends  to  push                                                               
elections  to  the  local  level.  He  said  municipalities  like                                                               
Anchorage or Juneau that have  their own election ordinances "are                                                               
exempt from  a lot  of this." Aspiring  communities that  want to                                                               
opt out  of the state  election system are  able to do  that. "We                                                               
were trying  to be clear  that if you're already  doing something                                                               
or  want to  do something,  this system's  for you.  And all  the                                                               
others, it applies to you."                                                                                                     
CHAIR  SHOWER   asked  him   to  talk   about  the   protocols  a                                                               
municipality would  need to follow  to ensure  election integrity                                                               
but not prevent it from having its own mail-in voting.                                                                          
4:18:29 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SHANNIGAN  explained  that  communities  would  be  able  to                                                               
establish protocols for their election  system but they must meet                                                               
the state baseline standards for election integrity.                                                                            
CHAIR SHOWER asked, as an Alaska  Native and veteran, if he views                                                               
any of the solutions embodied in SB 39 as voter suppression.                                                                    
MR. SHANNIGAN answered no; if SB  39 were to pass tomorrow, there                                                               
would  still be  exceptions to  accommodate absentee  voting. "If                                                               
you could vote  in person before, you can vote  in person now; if                                                               
you  had to  have an  absentee situation  before, you'd  have the                                                               
absentee situation now."                                                                                                        
MR. OGAN added  offered his view that an election  system that is                                                               
rife  with  errors  and  possible   fraud  is  a  form  of  voter                                                               
4:24:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KAWASAKI asked  if  this was  about  internal policy  or                                                               
regulations established by the Division of Elections.                                                                           
MR.  SHANNIGAN  replied  the  point  is  that  policies  are  not                                                               
codified.  The policy  may  be  good but  it  may  not be  evenly                                                               
applied  or it  may be  ambiguous and  that potentially  leads to                                                               
errors.  He  cited  the  example  of destroying  ballots  at  the                                                               
precinct  level and  deciding  which ballots  to  count. He  said                                                               
those  are policy  decisions  that can  change  depending on  the                                                               
administration. That breeds mistrust.                                                                                           
SENATOR  KAWASAKI said  he would  like a  deeper analysis  of the                                                               
regulations  to understand  whether  the bill  does  or does  not                                                               
change existing regulations.                                                                                                    
4:26:16 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. OGAN  cited the example  of the Division  of Elections giving                                                               
contradictory statements from one  conversation to the next. Last                                                               
year the division said  that when somebody votes twice their vote                                                               
is canceled,  but this  year they said  the last vote  counts. He                                                               
also related his experience  working in the administration for 10                                                               
years when  people in the agency opted  not to follow regulations                                                               
and  statutes. He  said, "Just  because it's  in the  statutes or                                                               
regulation doesn't mean that  the bureaucrats are going to follow                                                               
it.  What  it  does is  it  gives  you  a  process that  you  can                                                               
hopefully take to an objective court and alter their behavior."                                                                 
4:27:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  asked  for  an  example of  what  has  changed                                                               
between the Parnell, Walker, and Dunleavy administrations.                                                                      
MR.  SHANNIGAN replied  the sponsor's  office has  requested, but                                                               
has   not   received,   that   information.  They   did   receive                                                               
confirmation   that   what   vote   counts   has   changed   from                                                               
administration to administration.                                                                                               
CHAIR SHOWER  added that the answers have  been difficult to come                                                               
by, partly  because of the  data breach and  pending lawsuits. He                                                               
shared  that  a  Democrat's  office  and  a  poll  director  also                                                               
mentioned seeing irregularities in the last election.                                                                           
SENATOR KAWASAKI  asked to have  the lieutenant governor  and the                                                               
director of  the Division of Elections come  before the committee                                                               
to testify to the election integrity issues.                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER said  he was told that neither  the governor nor the                                                               
lieutenant governor would come before the legislature.                                                                          
MR.  OGAN  emphasized  the  need  for  clear  policy,  protocols,                                                               
regulations, and statutes.                                                                                                      
4:33:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  REINBOLD  voiced  support   for  having  the  lieutenant                                                               
governor come  before the committee  and suggested  the committee                                                               
also hold a hearing on the Dominion voting system.                                                                              
CHAIR SHOWER  urged the members  to submit requests to  hear from                                                               
specific individuals or entities.                                                                                               
He emphasized  that election integrity  is not partisan.  He said                                                               
the  intent  in  SB  39  is to  restore  confidence  in  Alaska's                                                               
election system.                                                                                                                
4:35:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO thanked  him for  shining a  light on  election                                                               
integrity.  She  requested  the   sponsor  expand  the  sectional                                                               
analysis to include:                                                                                                            
1) the problem being solved in each section,                                                                                    
2) whether  it a problem that  might happen or has  happened, and                                                               
3) a specific example if the problem has happened.                                                                              
For example, constituents have said  they were surprised to learn                                                               
that  they could  no longer  vote  where they  live because  they                                                               
applied for a PFD where they work, perhaps on the North Slope.                                                                  
CHAIR SHOWER agreed to provide an expanded sectional.                                                                           
4:38:15 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOLLAND  echoed Senator Kawasaki's  request to  hear from                                                               
the  Division of  Elections. He  also asked  if the  intention in                                                               
Section 18  is to  limit somebody from  collecting a  ballot from                                                               
more than one family member.                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER replied the intent  is to prevent ballot harvesting,                                                               
but there  would be exemptions  to accommodate voters  who cannot                                                               
visit  their polling  station in  person.  He asked  Mr. Ogan  to                                                               
supplement the explanation of Section 18 for Senator Holland.                                                                   
MR. OGAN  said the intent in  Section 18 is to  stop professional                                                               
ballot  harvesting  that  went  on  in  the  last  election,  and                                                               
probably  before  that. He  cited  examples  of people  receiving                                                               
multiple ballots  for the  same election  and people  knocking on                                                               
doors to  collect ballots. He acknowledged  that exceptions might                                                               
be necessary  to accommodate those unable  to go to the  polls in                                                               
MR.  SHANNIGAN pointed  out that  pre-stamped envelopes  add more                                                               
ambiguity  to a  mail-in  system because  the  envelopes are  not                                                               
dated.  He  related  his   experience  working  for  the  Knowles                                                               
campaign when  250 people were hired  to go door to  door to pick                                                               
up ballots.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SHOWER said it is  unfortunate that the data breach was not                                                               
reported  earlier because people  would have  been more  on guard                                                               
and  perhaps kept  or taken  pictures of  the extra  ballots they                                                               
received. That  did not happen.  Nevertheless, it is  clear there                                                               
is room to improve the system, he said.                                                                                         
4:44:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KAWASAKI said there  have been  assertions of  fraud and                                                               
statements that  something could have happened  with ballots, but                                                               
no  proof has been  presented. He  said he  hopes the  person who                                                               
said they  received five ballots comes in  and signs an affidavit                                                               
attesting to  that fact. He  noted that people  who contacted his                                                               
office with  ballot questions declined to follow  through to help                                                               
start an  investigation. He  opined that the  lieutenant governor                                                               
did a good  job with the Ballot Measure 2  recount and lauded the                                                               
work  of  election  workers  from  both  sides of  the  aisle  in                                                               
Fairbanks. He reiterated the  need for proof that there really is                                                               
a problem.                                                                                                                      
SENATOR  KAWASAKI said  he would  like to  hear from  the foreign                                                               
national who received a  ballot because that person did something                                                               
illegal  if  they  voted  the  ballot.  To  the  person  who  was                                                               
surprised  that  their  voting  station had  changed  after  they                                                               
applied for  a PFD,  he pointed out  that they attested  to their                                                               
mailing  address and  where they  are domiciled  on  the dividend                                                               
application. The Division of Election uses that address.                                                                        
SENATOR KAWASAKI asked to hear:                                                                                                 
1) about  the errors in the  last election and  whether they were                                                               
2) how chain of custody would work, and                                                                                         
3) about the destruction of ballots at the precinct level.                                                                      
He described  the process when his  mother made a  mistake on her                                                               
ballot. The ballot was torn  in half, put in an envelope that was                                                               
sealed and certified, and  sent to the Division of Elections. The                                                               
ballots in each precinct  are sequenced and each one is accounted                                                               
for. He  said he  believes that process  is in regulation  but he                                                               
would like to know for sure.                                                                                                    
4:49:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SHANNIGAN said  that regarding  destruction  of ballots,  it                                                               
might be necessary to get  testimony from people who testified in                                                               
the Miller  v. Treadwell  and Nageak v.  Mallott cases.  He noted                                                               
that  the  sponsor's  office  has   had  conversations  with  the                                                               
Division  of  Elections  regarding ballot  destruction  in  rural                                                               
areas. He said  the bill is targeting errors, not  fraud. He said                                                               
he  is not  questioning the  integrity of  election workers.  The                                                               
errors  are  most likely  due  to  lack  of training  and  flawed                                                               
CHAIR  SHOWER  asked him  to  discuss  signature verification  in                                                               
Anchorage versus the state.                                                                                                     
MR. SHANNIGAN  said the  Division of Elections  said it  can only                                                               
validate signatures  manually, but the Municipality  of Anchorage                                                               
has  a software  program they  use for  their elections  and they                                                               
also contract  with the  City and Borough  of Juneau  to validate                                                               
signatures in those elections.                                                                                                  
With regard to the lack of  evidence, he said the 113,000 records                                                               
that were  lost in  the data  breach is  evidence. He  added that                                                               
"hundreds  of  people"  from  multiple  districts  contacted  the                                                               
sponsor's  office about  getting more  than one  ballot and  some                                                               
have said  they are  willing to sign  affidavits and  testify. He                                                               
said  there  is a  lot  of  circumstantial evidence  that  raises                                                               
question about the integrity of the last election.                                                                              
4:55:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER  said every  person his office  talked to  said they                                                               
would  be  willing  to  testify  or talk  to  a  law  enforcement                                                               
officer.  It  is unfortunate  that  this  administration did  not                                                               
inform people  of the  data breach, he  said, because  they would                                                               
have been more vigilant if they had that information.                                                                           
MR.  OGAN  pointed  out that  the  legislature's  ethics  statute                                                               
requires  people  to  avoid  even  the  appearance  of  unethical                                                               
behavior. He  emphasized the  need to  establish robust  chain of                                                               
custody protocols  and suggested that Alaska  has the opportunity                                                               
to create a system that is "a  shining light on the hill" for all                                                               
states to admire. He said both  sides of the aisle could agree on                                                               
such a system.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR REINBOLD requested:                                                                                                     
1) the Division of Elections talk about the difference between                                                                  
using a black marker or ink pen to mark a ballot,                                                                               
2) the courts talk about Judge Crosby's decision to strike the                                                                  
witness signature requirement on absentee ballots and the                                                                       
potential for the court to show political bias, and                                                                             
3) if the federal government should be involved in the inquiry                                                                  
about the last election.                                                                                                        
5:01:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER thanked the committee and held SB 39 in committee.                                                                 
5:02:14 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Shower adjourned the Senate State Affairs Standing                                                                        
Committee meeting at 5:02 p.m.                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
State Affairs Weekly Announcement Template.pdf SSTA 1/28/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 39
SB 39 Agenda
1 28 21 SB 39 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 1/28/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 39
1 28 28 SB 39 - Sectional Analysis.pdf SSTA 1/28/2021 3:30:00 PM
Fiscal Note 21.pdf SSTA 1/28/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 39
Fiscal Note 981.pdf SSTA 1/28/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 39
Fiscal Note 2202.pdf SSTA 1/28/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 39
Fiscal Note 21.pdf SSTA 1/28/2021 3:30:00 PM
Sectional Analysis SB39 (Legal).pdf SSTA 1/28/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 39