Legislature(2021 - 2022)

2021-02-18 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2021-02-18                     House Journal                      Page 0154
HB 96                                                                                                                         
HOUSE BILL NO. 96 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                                                    
the Governor, entitled:                                                                                                         
     "An Act relating to elections; and providing for an effective date."                                                       
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs, Judiciary, and                                                       
Finance Committees.                                                                                                             
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                                             
1.  Zero, Office of the Governor                                                                                                
The Governor's transmittal letter dated February 11 follows:                                                                    
"Dear Speaker Stutes:                                                                                                           
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill relating to election integrity (AS                                                       
15.07, 15.15, 15.20). This bill would provide additional tools for the                                                          

2021-02-18                     House Journal                      Page 0155
Division of Elections to increase public trust in our elections. Ensuring                                                       
the integrity of our elections is critical to the preservation of our                                                           
democracy. This bill would strengthen and improve key aspects of                                                                
Alaska’s election process specifically related to tabulation machine                                                            
audits, voter signature verification, the costs associated with recounts,                                                       
and mail-in-only voting in small communities.                                                                                   
The Division of Elections needs more flexibility to conduct audits on                                                           
the tabulation machines used to count votes. This bill would permit the                                                         
division director to conduct additional hand counts and to audit more                                                           
precincts as appropriate, to help ensure public confidence in the                                                               
integrity of our election results.                                                                                              
The bill would clarify that a voter’s signature and at least two voter                                                          
identifiers are required on an absentee ballot envelope in order for that                                                       
absentee ballot to be valid and counted.                                                                                        
In addition, the bill would allow the director to set by regulation, the                                                        
amount of money required to be put on deposit prior to a recount being                                                          
initiated. That amount is currently set in statute. This will ensure that                                                       
recount deposits are sufficient to cover the actual cost of conducting                                                          
the recount.                                                                                                                    
Finally, the bill would allow communities with populations of less                                                              
than 750 to conduct elections exclusively by mail, instead of in-                                                               
person. At times, including during the current COVID-19 pandemic,                                                               
for health, safety, and other legitimate reasons, small communities in                                                          
our state have been unable to open and operate physical polling                                                                 
locations. This bill would permit the Division of Elections to work                                                             
cooperatively with these communities to determine alternative ways of                                                           
ensuring every voter is able to exercise their right to vote.                                                                   
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                                                        
Mike Dunleavy