Legislature(2005 - 2006)

03/21/2005 02:29 PM House JUD

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 94 - ELECTIONS                                                                                                             
3:29:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 94,  "An  Act relating  to qualifications  of                                                               
voters,   requirements  and   procedures  regarding   independent                                                               
candidates  for  President  and   Vice-President  of  the  United                                                               
States, voter registration and  voter registration records, voter                                                               
registration  through a  power  of  attorney, voter  registration                                                               
using scanned  documents, voter residence, precinct  boundary and                                                               
polling place designation  and modification, recognized political                                                               
parties,  voters  unaffiliated  with  a  political  party,  early                                                               
voting,  absentee   voting,  application  for   absentee  ballots                                                               
through  a power  of attorney,  or by  scanned documents,  ballot                                                               
design, ballot  counting, voting  by mail, voting  machines, vote                                                               
tally  systems, initiative,  referendum, recall,  and definitions                                                               
in   the  Alaska   Election  Code;   relating  to   incorporation                                                               
elections; and  providing for  an effective  date."   [Before the                                                               
committee was CSHB 94(STA).]                                                                                                    
LAURA  A.   GLAISER,  Director,   Central  Office,   Division  of                                                               
Elections, Office  of the  Lieutenant Governor,  characterized HB
94 as  an omnibus "repair election"  bill, and noted that  it had                                                               
initially been  introduced during  the 23rd legislature  as House                                                               
Bill 523.   She explained that the housekeeping  measures that HB
94  provides   involve  changing  the  phrase   "work  sites"  to                                                               
"construction sites"; providing that  the presumptive evidence of                                                               
a  voter's  address  is  his/her  record,  not  the  voter  card;                                                               
defining  "nonpartisan"  and   "undeclared"  voters  in  statute;                                                               
protecting  voter information  of  domestic  violence victims  in                                                               
accord  with confidentiality  laws improved  last year;  defining                                                               
the  process for  independent candidates  for president  and vice                                                               
president; ensuring  consistency in  the definition  of "overseas                                                               
voters";  clarifying  the  age   requirements  for  serving  once                                                               
elected; clearly  setting out  recognized political  party status                                                               
in the qualification standards for  parties; changing Title 29 so                                                               
as to  clearly define a  qualified voter as one  who's registered                                                               
to vote within  the proposed borough or municipality  at least 30                                                               
days  prior  to  an   election;  defining  "reregistration";  and                                                               
repealing  duplicative  language  regarding  regional  supervisor                                                               
offices as absentee voting stations.                                                                                            
MS. GLAISER  said that  some key  points that  came up  this year                                                               
include  allowing  a  voter,  through a  power  of  attorney,  to                                                               
authorize  another to  register to  vote or  make changes  to the                                                               
voter's registration,  or fill out  an application for  a by-mail                                                               
absentee  ballot;  the latter  were  requested  a lot  this  last                                                               
election  season by  family members  of  those serving  overseas.                                                               
She  mentioned   that  in  the   House  State   Affairs  Standing                                                               
Committee, Representative  Gruenberg helped with the  drafting of                                                               
that provision.   Additionally,  the witnessing  requirements for                                                               
absentee ballot requests by-mail  or electronic transmission were                                                               
reduced from  two witnesses  to one witness  and that  witness no                                                               
longer has to  be a U.S. citizen.  Scanning  would now be another                                                               
means  by  which  to  transmit   voter  registration  or  by-mail                                                               
absentee ballot requests to the  division; the division currently                                                               
accepts these forms in person, by mail, or by fax.                                                                              
MS. GLAISER  mentioned that the  division had been told  that the                                                               
phrase "electronic  transmission" was  not clear enough  to allow                                                               
someone   to   scan   his/her   electronic   voter   registration                                                               
application  and   attach  it   as  an   e-mail;  the   need  for                                                               
clarification on this issue prompted  some of the changes offered                                                               
via HB  94.   The bill  also requires  the division  to implement                                                               
ballot  rotation   for  the  names  of   candidates  running  for                                                               
governor,  lieutenant  governor,  United States  senator,  United                                                               
States representative,  and state senator on  ballots printed for                                                               
each  House  district.    Placement  of  names  for  state  House                                                               
candidates  will appear  in  random order  as  determined by  the                                                               
director, and  this is not a  change from current practice.   She                                                               
mentioned  that instituting  a ballot  rotation  for state  House                                                               
seats  would increase  the  fiscal  note and  the  burden on  the                                                               
division.   In  response  to a  question,  she acknowledged  that                                                               
there are studies which indicate  that having one's name first on                                                               
the  ballot  increases  one's  chances of  winning,  as  well  as                                                               
studies which indicate that the chances are not increased.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG   mentioned   that   Joseph   Sonneman                                                               
researched that issue  and took a case to the  supreme court.  He                                                               
mentioned  a chart  that illustrates  what ballot  rotation would                                                               
look like, and concurred that  having a rotating ballot for state                                                               
House seats would increase the fiscal note.                                                                                     
MS. GLAISER mentioned that for a  state Senate seat, if there are                                                               
more than two candidates, one of  them will never be first on the                                                               
3:36:29 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  GLAISER  indicated  that  the   bill  will  increase  ballot                                                               
security  by precluding  ballots  from being  mailed  to a  voter                                                               
whose  address has  already been  identified as  "undeliverable."                                                               
Also, election  boards will be  required to report the  number of                                                               
ballots  that  are  destroyed  - this  is  intended  to  increase                                                               
accountability - and the bill  adds standards for voting machines                                                               
and vote tally systems.  She noted  that a great deal of the bill                                                               
addresses petitions,  referendums, and  recalls, with  the intent                                                               
of making the  process of petitioning one's  government more user                                                               
friendly and more consistent.                                                                                                   
MS. GLAISER  relayed that  the bill  also requires  printed names                                                               
and dates of birth as  identifiers for petition signers, and this                                                               
should  help   the  division  more  readily   qualify  a  voter's                                                               
signature.   In  order  to  comply with  the  U.S. Supreme  Court                                                               
decision in  Buckley v.  American Constitutional  Law Foundation,                                                             
the  bill proposes  the following  qualifications for  a petition                                                               
circulator:   he/she must be 18  years of age or  older, and must                                                               
be both a U.S. citizen and an Alaskan resident.                                                                                 
MS. GLAISER  mentioned that language  that was the basis  for the                                                               
division requiring accountability  reports from petition sponsors                                                               
has been  removed; the Hinterberger  v. State of  Alaska decision                                                             
determined  that  that  requirement  placed an  undue  burden  on                                                               
petition carriers.  The bill  also removes language requiring the                                                               
circulator's name  to be prominently  displayed on  the petition,                                                               
though that requirement  has not been enforced  since the Buckley                                                             
decision   came  out,   and  removes   language  [requiring]   an                                                               
additional 100 signatures when filing a recall petition.                                                                        
3:38:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  thanked the division for  its work, and                                                               
commented on the current system's  integrity.  With regard to now                                                               
only needing  one witness on  an absentee ballot  request by-mail                                                               
or  electronic  transmission,  she  mentioned  that  this  change                                                               
disturbs her.                                                                                                                   
MS. GLAISER said  this change disturbs her  as well, particularly                                                               
since  the bill's  original requirement  that that  witness be  a                                                               
U.S.  citizen was  removed in  the House  State Affairs  Standing                                                               
Committee.    However,  39  states currently  do  not  require  a                                                               
witness to be  a U.S. citizen because it is  believed that such a                                                               
requirement creates  a higher  bar to  voting.   Furthermore, the                                                               
division can't  verify that a  witness is a U.S.  citizen, though                                                               
the witness does sign an oath.                                                                                                  
3:41:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARA mentioned that  Section 19 causes him concern                                                               
because  it says  the division  can use  any machine  that's been                                                               
approved  by the  Federal Election  Commission, and  he wants  to                                                               
ensure  that this  does not  mean a  machine that  doesn't use  a                                                               
paper ballot.                                                                                                                   
MS. GLAISER  said that would not  be the case, and  noted that in                                                               
the  House  State   Affairs  Standing  Committee,  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg  added  language  to  Section 19  that  referenced  the                                                               
statute which stipulates  that a voting machine must  use a paper                                                               
MS.  GLAISER,  in  response  to  a  question,  relayed  that  the                                                               
language  change from  two  witnesses  to one  witness  - who  no                                                               
longer has to be a U.S. citizen  - is located on page 11, lines 1                                                               
and 25-26, and  pertains to both electronic  and by-mail absentee                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  referred  to testimony  heard  in  the                                                               
House State  Affairs Standing  Committee regarding  the potential                                                               
difficulty, while traveling abroad, of  finding a U.S. citizen to                                                               
act  as  a  witness;  the  feeling in  the  House  State  Affairs                                                               
Standing  Committee was  that it  would  not be  necessary for  a                                                               
witness to  be a  U.S. citizen.   In response  to a  question, he                                                               
noted that 39  states don't have a witness  requirement, and said                                                               
he  would be  willing to  offer an  amendment to  that effect  if                                                               
absentee voters  are required to  swear under penalty  of perjury                                                               
that they are who they say they are.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  whether  a witness  would be  more                                                               
liable than the absentee voter.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said no.                                                                                               
3:46:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG offered  his recollection  that one  is                                                               
already  under   penalty  of  perjury  to   identify  one's  self                                                               
correctly for the purpose of voting.                                                                                            
CHAIR McGUIRE asked what the form says "on the witnessing part."                                                                
MS. GLAISER  said it's important  to know that seeking  a witness                                                               
is a person's  last recourse; she indicated that  the form that's                                                               
returned to the Division of Elections says:                                                                                     
     By  law  your  ballot  cannot  be  counted  unless  you                                                                    
     include your  signature, have it witnessed  and provide                                                                    
     an identifier.   I declare that  I am a citizen  of the                                                                    
     United  States  and that  I  have  been a  resident  of                                                                    
     Alaska for  at least 30 days.   I have not  requested a                                                                    
     ballot from  any other state  and am not voting  in any                                                                    
     other  manner  in  this  election.     If  I  had  this                                                                    
     certification  attested  by  witnesses  other  than  an                                                                    
     authorized  official,   it  was  because   no  official                                                                    
     empowered   to  administer   an  oath   was  reasonably                                                                    
      available.  I certify that the foregoing is true and                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  noted   that  Section   14,  proposed                                                               
15.20.066(b)(2),  already   requires  that  an   absentee  ballot                                                               
returned  by electronic  transmission  must be  accompanied by  a                                                               
statement  executed  under  oath  as  to  the  voter's  identity.                                                               
Section 16, on the other  hand, pertains to returning an absentee                                                               
ballot by mail  and doesn't require a person to  state under oath                                                               
that he/she  is who  he/she is  claiming to be.   He  opined that                                                               
there should be  such a requirement when one  returns an absentee                                                               
ballot  by mail,  particularly since  that requirement  exists if                                                               
one returns an absentee ballot via fax.                                                                                         
MS.  GLAISER  noted that  the  bill  doesn't include  the  entire                                                               
statute,  and indicated  that she  would be  looking at  the full                                                               
statute  to   find  out  whether   elsewhere  it  makes   such  a                                                               
requirement for those sending in their absentee ballots by mail.                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  asked whether the  Division of Elections  has ever                                                               
had occasion to contact the  witnesses because of suspected voter                                                               
3:49:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. GLAISER relayed that she has  been asked to contact a witness                                                               
when,  for  example,  the  witness's  signature  was  the  voter'                                                               
signature,  or when  the witness  had  a different  name but  the                                                               
signature  was the  same  as  the voter's.    She  said that  the                                                               
Division  of Elections  has an  attorney  general's opinion  that                                                               
says that division personnel are  not signature experts, but when                                                               
it's flagrant,  they can  "make that  call."   She noted  that if                                                               
it's a close  election or if there  is a concern or  if there are                                                               
questions about  how the absentee review  boards are functioning,                                                               
then the issue  of witness verification is pursued  further.  She                                                               
acknowledged that the Division of  Elections doesn't know whether                                                               
every single witness is whom he/she says.                                                                                       
CHAIR  McGUIRE said  she agrees  with Representative  Gruenberg's                                                               
comments regarding  "an oath requirement."   She  added, however,                                                               
that she  would be  reluctant to "remove  the witnessing  part of                                                               
it";  rather,   perhaps  they  should  add   a  requirement  that                                                               
witnesses  take  an  oath  under penalty  of  perjury  when  they                                                               
witness absentee ballots.  In  other words, if an absentee ballot                                                               
is  not signed  by a  notary, there  ought to  be a  mechanism by                                                               
which  to ensure  that  the absentee  ballot  is being  witnessed                                                               
correctly.  She surmised that if  one knows that he/she will have                                                               
to ask someone else to  falsify information about one's identity,                                                               
it might serve as a deterrent.                                                                                                  
MS. GLAISER  said that the  "first bar"  is the highest,  that of                                                               
having  to fill  out  an absentee  ballot in  the  presence of  a                                                               
notary  public,   commissioned  officer   of  the   armed  forces                                                               
including  the  National  Guard, district  judge  or  magistrate,                                                               
United States  postal official,  registration official,  or other                                                               
person  qualified to  administer  oaths.   She  opined that  this                                                               
should  be   the  first  test,  although   the  division  doesn't                                                               
scrutinize  the fact  that a  person had  two witnesses  sign the                                                               
form  even though  he/she had  easy  access to  a notary  public.                                                               
Alaska is recognized  as doing the most to make  sure a ballot is                                                               
counted, and the division does not  judge a person with regard to                                                               
whether he/she met the highest bar or took the easier route.                                                                    
3:53:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG referred  to page 11 and  noted that the                                                               
statute doesn't require that "it" be  under oath even in front of                                                               
a notary, whereas  the form does.   He opined that if  an oath is                                                               
required, then the oath should  be required regardless of whether                                                               
"it's" in  front of the notary;  "then what they would  do, would                                                               
be ...  [to] have  you say,  here, up at  the top,  'signed under                                                               
penalty of perjury.'"                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  made  a  motion  to  adopt  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1,  to alter AS  15.20.081 "to require that  here, just                                                               
like with  fax, that  it be  signed under  penalty of  perjury or                                                               
under oath."                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  McGUIRE,   noting  that  [CSHB  94(STA)]   is  before  the                                                               
committee, asked whether there were  any objections to Conceptual                                                               
Amendment  1.   There  being  none,  Conceptual Amendment  1  was                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG, in  response  to a  question, said  he                                                               
would  feel much  better if  [a  witness were  required to  sign]                                                               
under oath.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR   McGUIRE  noted   how   easy  it   is   to  obtain   false                                                               
identification,  and  said she  wants  to  give recourse  to  the                                                               
division  in  cases  of  voter  fraud,  which  some  states  have                                                               
terrible problems with.                                                                                                         
3:58:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  pointed out that  when he goes  into vote                                                               
people [working] under  oath check his ID;  he characterized this                                                               
as  a high  bar that  provides Alaska  with a  very clean  voting                                                               
system.   Where that system  starts to  get messy, he  opined, is                                                               
[in   regard  to   absentee  voters]   and  suggested   that  the                                                               
individual's signature  under oath  is the last  place to  go [to                                                               
ensure the system's integrity].   He said he doesn't consider the                                                               
requirement  for  an  absentee  voter to  have  someone  honestly                                                               
witness his/her signature as being too  much of a burden.  Noting                                                               
that proposed AS  15.20.081(d) first says that  an absentee voter                                                               
should fill out  his/her ballot in front of a  notary public, the                                                               
goal being  to identify  who a  voter is,  he offered  his belief                                                               
that there  is still a need  for that level of  serious scrutiny;                                                               
therefore, he is  not willing to remove  the witness requirements                                                               
just yet.                                                                                                                       
MS. GLAISER noted that the division is  going out to bid on a new                                                               
voter  registration system,  which  would allow  the division  to                                                               
scan a  voter's signature and  thus provide the  "absentee board"                                                               
with the ability to compare signatures.                                                                                         
4:02:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE asked  what the current rule  is regarding absentee                                                               
MS. GLAISER relayed  that other states require  an absentee voter                                                               
to swear that he/she will either  be traveling or is incapable of                                                               
voting in  the regular  manner.  So  although absentee  voting is                                                               
not supposed to be a  person's first choice, the division doesn't                                                               
question a person  with regard to why he/she is  choosing to vote                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA noted  that  the  bill contains  substantive                                                               
provisions regarding the initiative process.                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE mentioned that the bill would be held over.                                                                       
4:05:31 PM                                                                                                                    
JOSEPH A. SONNEMAN, Ph.D., relayed  that he'd earned his Ph.D. in                                                               
government,  that he  is the  former chair  of Alaskans  for Fair                                                               
Elections  - which  asked for  the recent  recount regarding  the                                                               
U.S.  Senate seat  -  and that  he would  be  speaking about  two                                                               
sections of  HB 94, Sections  10 and  19, and about  two proposed                                                               
amendments.  With regard to  Section 10, which pertains to ballot                                                               
rotation, he  offered his  understanding that  statisticians have                                                               
determined that if there is a long list of candidates, people at                                                                
the top of the list seem to do approximately 5 to 7 percent                                                                     
better with regard to garnering votes.  He went on to say:                                                                      
     Woodrow Wilson, the only  political scientist to become                                                                    
     president, even wrote an article  about that about 1910                                                                    
     or so.   And then,  of course, when  candidates learned                                                                    
     this,  some candidates  actually  began changing  their                                                                    
     names because candidates  were listed alphabetically in                                                                    
     those days.   So to  prevent the gaming of  the system,                                                                    
     ...  a  number  of  states and  territories  ...  began                                                                    
     rotating the  name of  candidates on  separate ballots,                                                                    
     so you  would have as  many ... versions of  the ballot                                                                    
     as  there were  candidates [and  the different  ballots                                                                    
     would  be distributed  to  voters as  they  came in  to                                                                    
     vote]. ...                                                                                                                 
     Alaska was  one of those  places that had  adopted full                                                                    
     ballot rotation, and we had  that in place for about 70                                                                    
     years ...  until about  [1997 or  1996] ...  [when] the                                                                    
     task  force  for  the lieutenant  governor  recommended                                                                    
     that  ballot rotation  be  done away  with  as a  cost-                                                                    
     saving  measure.    And ...,  unfortunately,  that  was                                                                    
     adopted.   So  I  filed  suit and  it  went  up to  the                                                                    
     supreme  court, which  decided three  to  two that  the                                                                    
     legislature was  entitled to pick  a fair  method [but]                                                                    
     did not have to pick the fairest method.                                                                                   
     And there is  no question that the method  that is used                                                                    
     today is  a fair  method, and the  method that  is used                                                                    
     today  is that  [the] Division  of Elections  picks the                                                                    
     letters  of  the  alphabet  -  each  letter  is  picked                                                                    
     separately ...  for each House district.  ... My point,                                                                    
     though, is that even though  that's a fair method, it's                                                                    
     a method in which if  there is any positional bias, one                                                                    
     person,  whoever is  picked,  gets the  benefit of  all                                                                    
     that positional bias for that  House district.  And so,                                                                    
     to  me,  even  though  that's a  fair  method,  it's  a                                                                    
     drawing; it's  not an election, because  somebody could                                                                    
     ... easily be  the winner because of the  result of the                                                                    
     drawing rather than as a result of the voting.                                                                             
     Nevertheless,  that's what  we've had  for about  eight                                                                    
     years.  ...  And,  as  Representative  Gruenberg  said,                                                                    
     [last year the House  State Affairs Standing Committee]                                                                    
     went in favor  of full ballot rotation.  ... Of course,                                                                    
     with full ballot rotation,  there's a substantial cost,                                                                    
     a  cost that  Alaska was  able to  afford for  70 years                                                                    
     when we did not have oil  money, and it's curious to me                                                                    
     that now  we say [we]  can't afford it.   But [setting]                                                                    
     that to  one side,  I think the  method that  is before                                                                    
     you in  Section 10  of this bill  [is] a  very creative                                                                    
     way to improve on  the present system without incurring                                                                    
     the costs of full ballot  rotation.  Obviously it's not                                                                    
     quite as good as full  ballot rotation, but the cost is                                                                    
     much,  much less.  ...  So  I would  say  that I  favor                                                                    
     Section 10.                                                                                                                
DR.  SONNEMAN noted  that section  10 rotates  by House  district                                                               
rather than by ballot; this  means that House district candidates                                                               
don't  rotate, but  there are  up to  40 rotations  available for                                                               
statewide offices.                                                                                                              
CHAIR  McGUIRE  asked what  prompted  voters  to pick  candidates                                                               
listed at the top of a ballot.                                                                                                  
4:11:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  SONNEMAN offered  his understanding  that that  practice was                                                               
more prevalent  in places such  as the  state of New  York, which                                                               
used  to elect  its judges,  and so,  from a  list of  200 names,                                                               
people would  just pick those who  were at the top;  he mentioned                                                               
that to a lesser degree some  people would pick those who were at                                                               
the bottom  of the list.   A counter argument is  that positional                                                               
bias  doesn't matter  as  much  when either  there  are very  few                                                               
candidates or  when there is a  lot of advertising or  when there                                                               
is strong party identification.   The early studies were based on                                                               
long lists of candidates, and  positional bias was found to exist                                                               
in those situations.  He reiterated  his support of Section 10 as                                                               
something that can win approval in "this budget conscious age."                                                                 
DR.  SONNEMAN  referred to  Section  19,  which pertains  to  the                                                               
standards for  voting machines and  vote tally systems,  and said                                                               
that having a paper trail is  an issue of concern to Alaskans for                                                               
Fair Elections,  and so the group  is very glad of  the inclusion                                                               
of   the  aforementioned   amendment   regarding  the   statutory                                                               
reference to  the stipulation  that a voting  machine must  use a                                                               
paper ballot.   That is  the current  law, and Alaskans  for Fair                                                               
Elections is hoping it remains in place.                                                                                        
DR.  SONNEMAN  turned  attention   to  a  proposed  amendment  by                                                               
Representative Gara, which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                
     Page 10, following line 14                                                                                                 
          Insert new bill sections to read:                                                                                     
     "*Sec. 13. AS 15.15.420 is amended to read:                                                                              
          Sec. 15.15.420.  Duty to review the ballot                                                                          
     counting.   The director  shall review the  counting of                                                                  
     the ballots with the assistance  of and in the presence                                                                    
     of the  state ballot  counting review  board [APPOINTED                                                                
     REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE POLITICAL PARTIES].                                                                               
     *Sec. 14. AS 15.15.430 is amended to read:                                                                               
          Sec. 15.15.430.  Scope of the review of ballot                                                                      
     counting.  (a) The review 10  of  ballot   counting  by                                                                  
     the director shall include only [A REVIEW OF]                                                                              
          (1) a review of the precinct registers, tallies,                                                                  
     and ballots case; [AND]                                                                                                    
          (2) a review of absentee and questioned ballots                                                                   
     as prescribed by law; and                                                                                              
          (3) a hand count of ballots from one or more                                                                      
     randomly selected  precincts in each  election district                                                                
     that accounts for at least  five percent of the ballots                                                                
     cast in that district.                                                                                                 
          (b)  If, following the ballot review set out in                                                                       
     (a)  of   this  section,  the  director   18  finds  an                                                                    
     unexplained  discrepancy in  the  ballot  count in  any                                                                    
     precinct, the director may count  the ballots from that                                                                    
     precinct.  If  there is a discrepancy of  more than one                                                                
     percent  between the  results of  the hand  count under                                                                
     (a)(3) of this  section and the count  certified by the                                                                
     election  board,  the  director shall  conduct  a  hand                                                                
     count of the ballots from  that district.  The director                                                                
     shall certify  in writing to the  state ballot counting                                                                    
     review  board and  publish on  the division's  Internet                                                                
     website  any  changes  resulting  from  a  [THE]  count                                                            
     performed under this subsection."                                                                                      
     Instructions to Legislative Legal:                                                                                         
     Make    corresponding     amendments    and    renumber                                                                    
DR.  SONNEMAN  referred  specifically  to  the  language  in  the                                                               
proposed amendment that  says, "(3) a hand count  of ballots from                                                           
one  or  more  randomly  selected   precincts  in  each  election                                                           
district that accounts  for at least five percent  of the ballots                                                           
cast  in that  district.",  offered his  understanding that  this                                                           
language was offered  as an amendment in the  House State Affairs                                                               
Standing  Committee,  and  relayed  that  a  lot  of  members  of                                                               
Alaskans  for Fair  Elections are  supportive  of this  language.                                                               
Alaska  now has  all of  its elections  "programmed" by  only one                                                               
person,  and  some  form  of oversight  would  be  desirable,  he                                                               
indicated, and used the analogy  of wanting an audit performed on                                                               
a bank  that has only one  cashier.  A hand  count is essentially                                                               
like an  audit, he explained,  ensuring that "nobody has  made an                                                               
offer you  can't refuse to  the one programmer, or  that somebody                                                               
[hasn't] ... somehow gotten remote  access to any of the machines                                                               
and changed the programming."                                                                                                   
DR. SONNEMAN relayed that the  feeling in the House State Affairs                                                               
Standing  Committee  was, why  fix  a  problem that  doesn't  yet                                                               
exist.  He offered  an example of a road not  needing a stop sign                                                               
at one of it's corners in  the days of horse drawn carriages, and                                                               
then, with the passage of time  and the advent of motor vehicles,                                                               
that road  becomes a much more  dangerous road to cross  and does                                                               
need a stop sign, but  the prevailing thought is, "Well, nobody's                                                               
been  killed   there  yet."    He   characterized  the  situation                                                               
involving  elections as  even  worse than  the  situation in  his                                                               
example, because  if an election  is somehow stolen  through mis-                                                               
programming, "we  non-programmers" won't  know that  the election                                                               
has been wrongly  decided because there won't  be anyone auditing                                                               
the state's only programmer.                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE  asked why  that language failed  to be  adopted in                                                               
the House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  that  the vote  went along  party                                                               
lines,  and that  the  feeling was  that  adopting such  language                                                               
might have a fiscal impact.                                                                                                     
MS. GLAISER  mentioned that the  amendment would  have engendered                                                               
an additional fiscal note of $25,000.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG characterized that  amount as "not much"                                                               
and the failure to pass the amendment as unfortunate.                                                                           
4:17:34 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. SONNEMAN  said that he  and a  number of members  of Alaskans                                                               
for Fair  Elections support Representative  Gara's aforementioned                                                               
amendment.    He  then  referred to  the  amendment  labeled  24-                                                               
GH1048\G.12, Kurtz, 2/11/05, which read:                                                                                        
     Page 8, following line 12:                                                                                                 
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
        "* Sec. 15.  AS 15.20.450 is amended to read:                                                                       
          Sec. 15.20.450.  Requirements of deposit and                                                                      
     recount cost.  The application must include a deposit                                                                  
     in cash, by certified check, or by bond with a surety                                                                      
     approved by  the director.   The amount of  the deposit                                                                    
     is $2,500 [$300] for each  precinct, $10,000 [$750] for                                                            
     each  house district,  and  $50,000  [$10,000] for  the                                                                
     entire state.   If the  recount includes an  office for                                                                    
     which   candidates  received   a  tie   vote,  or   the                                                                    
     difference between the  number of votes cast  was 20 or                                                                    
     less or  was less than  .5 percent of the  total number                                                                    
     of votes cast for the  two candidates for the contested                                                                    
     office, or  a question  or proposition for  which there                                                                    
     was a tie vote on  the issue, or the difference between                                                                    
     the number of votes cast in  favor of or opposed to the                                                                    
     issue was  20 or less  or was  less than .5  percent of                                                                    
     the  total votes  cast in  favor of  or opposed  to the                                                                    
     issue, the application need not  include a deposit, and                                                                    
     the state shall  bear the cost of the recount.   If, on                                                                    
     the recount,  a candidate other than  the candidate who                                                                    
     received the original  election certificate is declared                                                                    
     elected, or if the vote  on recount is determined to be                                                                    
     four percent or more in  excess of the vote reported by                                                                    
     the  state review  for the  candidate applying  for the                                                                    
     recount or  in favor of  or opposed to the  question or                                                                    
     proposition as  stated in  the application,  the entire                                                                    
     deposit shall  be refunded.   If the entire  deposit is                                                                    
     not  refunded,  the  director shall  refund  any  money                                                                    
     remaining after the  cost of the recount  has been paid                                                                    
     from the deposit.   If the cost of  the recount exceeds                                                                
     the amount of the  deposit, the recount applicant shall                                                                
     pay  the remainder  upon notification  by the  state of                                                                
     the amount due."                                                                                                       
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
     Page 21, line 4:                                                                                                           
          Delete "secs. 20 - 43"                                                                                                
          Insert "secs. 21 - 44"                                                                                                
DR.  SONNEMAN  offered  his   understanding  that  the  amendment                                                               
labeled G.12 would substantially raise  the amount of the deposit                                                               
required of  those requesting  a recount.   Under current  law, a                                                               
recount request  regarding a statewide  seat must  be accompanied                                                               
by a deposit of  $10,000, and if the cost of  the recount is less                                                               
than  that amount,  the  director of  the  Division of  Elections                                                               
refunds the remainder of the  deposit to those that requested the                                                               
recount.   Current law  is silent, however,  with regard  to what                                                               
happens if  the cost of  the recount exceeds the  deposit amount.                                                               
He elaborated:                                                                                                                  
     It's been reported in the  newspapers and I think prior                                                                    
     testimony, that even though our  group came up with the                                                                    
     $10,000, ...  the cost of  the recount was more  on the                                                                    
     order of [$30,000 or $40,000].   And so this amendment,                                                                    
     I think,  is trying to  say that it's something  like a                                                                    
     user fee  and the  folks who  request a  recount should                                                                    
     pay  the costs  of what  they  get; that  they get  the                                                                    
     recount and,  therefore, they should  pay for it.   And                                                                    
     on the surface  that sounds pretty good,  but we'd like                                                                    
     to explain why  it isn't.  First, as I  said earlier, a                                                                    
     recount  ... provides  an audit  function ...,  and so,                                                                    
     just  as audits  are  [a  part of  the]  cost of  doing                                                                    
     business,  we  think  recounts  are  a  cost  of  doing                                                                    
     government.  ...  The  potential  of  a  recount  keeps                                                                    
     elections honest. ...                                                                                                      
     And here ... these are  not minor increases; this would                                                                    
     go  from $750,  for a  House district  recount, ...  to                                                                    
     $10,000 - approximately twelve times  as much - and [a]                                                                    
     statewide  [seat recount]  would go  to $50,000  - five                                                                    
     times as much.  ... If you let the  world know, through                                                                    
     law,  that recounts  are going  to be  much, much  more                                                                    
     expensive  - and  the last  sentence  of the  amendment                                                                    
     says,  ...  if the  cost  of  the recount  exceeds  the                                                                    
     deposit,  the applicant  must pay  the remainder  - ...                                                                    
     that's  equivalent  to  letting  the  world  know  that                                                                    
     election audits  are going to  occur much  more rarely.                                                                    
     And so  those people  who are,  unfortunately, inclined                                                                    
     to try [to]  sway elections in improper  ways are going                                                                    
     to say, "Alaska is a target,  and we will be able to do                                                                    
     whatever we can  do in Alaska and the  odds of somebody                                                                    
     coming  up with  $50,000  for a  statewide recount  are                                                                    
     that much less than [at] $10,000."                                                                                         
CHAIR  McGUIRE asked  whether the  deposit for  a recount  can be                                                               
paid out of campaign funds.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG offered  his belief  that one  could do                                                               
DR. SONNEMAN  pointed out  that the other  aspect of  recounts to                                                               
consider is that a group must  raise the deposit within five days                                                               
including  weekends,   and  explained  that  Alaskans   for  Fair                                                               
Elections  succeeded  in  raising  $9,600  within  that  five-day                                                               
period and the balance  was paid for by one of  the members.  For                                                               
that group to  have been able to raise $50,000  in that amount of                                                               
time would  have been impossible, he  remarked, and characterized                                                               
the proposed change as a severe burden.                                                                                         
4:22:22 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. SONNEMAN also  pointed out, with regard to  the argument that                                                               
recount  deposit fees  should  be user  fees,  that the  accurate                                                               
counting of  an election benefits  all of society,  and therefore                                                               
Alaskans for  Fair Elections thinks  that it is  inappropriate to                                                               
single out the  requesting group to pay the whole  cost, and that                                                               
a recount  deposit should not  be considered a penalty.   Noting,                                                               
for   example,  that   in  cases   of  pollution,   international                                                               
environmental law  contains the principle of  "polluter pays," he                                                               
relayed that Alaskans  for Fair Elections doesn't  believe that a                                                               
recount  request is  like pollution;  rather, everybody  benefits                                                               
from a recount.                                                                                                                 
DR.  SONNEMAN offered  his understanding  that  current law  says                                                               
that the  state will pay for  a recount if there  is a difference                                                               
of less than .5 percent, but  the requester is required to pay if                                                               
the  difference   exceeds  .5  percent;  therefore,   should  the                                                               
amendment  labeled G.12  be adopted,  if the  difference is  .49,                                                               
then  the state  pays, and  if  the difference  .51 percent,  the                                                               
requestor will  be required  to deposit $50,000.   This  seems an                                                               
extreme difference  for such  a narrow  margin, he  remarked, and                                                               
noted that Maine  has a graduated approach to  this issue, though                                                               
the House State Affairs Standing  Committee deemed it too complex                                                               
for Alaska  for the time being.   He opined that  the appropriate                                                               
course  of  action for  the  House  Judiciary Standing  Committee                                                               
would be  to follow  suit with the  House State  Affairs Standing                                                               
Committee and defeat the amendment labeled G.12.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG confirmed  that  he and  Representative                                                               
Seaton had looked at the Maine  model and both had agreed that it                                                               
wouldn't suit a "little state like Alaska."                                                                                     
DR. SONNEMAN  relayed that several  members of Alaskans  for Fair                                                               
Elections  have  said  that  the main  concept  of  the  proposed                                                               
amendment  labeled G.12  again raises  the concern  addressed via                                                               
Representative Gara's  aforementioned proposed amendment  in that                                                               
one could  defeat even a  graduated system  if one had  access to                                                               
the computer  programs of the  voting machines.  It  is therefore                                                               
doubly important to  have control of the  [.5] percent threshold,                                                               
he opined, and mentioned that  he and Alaskans for Fair Elections                                                               
agree  with the  written  testimony offered  by  Don Anderson  in                                                               
support   of   Representative  Gara's   aforementioned   proposed                                                               
DR. SONNEMAN  said that Alaskans  for Fair  Elections appreciated                                                               
the  division's  efforts  during  the  recent  recount,  such  as                                                               
agreeing to  hand count 10 percent  of the precincts and  to take                                                               
that  10  percent only  from  precincts  that had  been  machine-                                                               
counted on election night.   Alaskans for Fair Elections also had                                                               
an  opportunity to  learn about  election  procedures during  the                                                               
recent  recount.    For  example, because  there  is  no  federal                                                               
centralized  database, when  people  vote  absentee from  another                                                               
state, there is  no way to ensure that those  people are not also                                                               
voting in that other state.   Also, if a person votes in advance,                                                               
unless the list  of registered voters is updated  - and currently                                                               
such  is  not  being  done  rapidly  enough  -  then  he/she  can                                                               
theoretically also go  into his/her precinct on  election day and                                                               
vote again.   The voter  history file would eventually  catch the                                                               
fact that  a person voted twice,  but not for six  months; in the                                                               
meantime, however, both votes would  be counted.  He concluded by                                                               
saying  that  he   is  in  favor  of  Sections  10   and  19  and                                                               
Representative  Gara's  aforementioned  proposed  amendment,  and                                                               
indicating that he not in favor of the amendment labeled G.12.                                                                  
4:28:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE asked whether other  states currently have a method                                                               
by which  to ensure that absentee  voters are voting only  in one                                                               
DR. SONNEMAN said he did not know.                                                                                              
CHAIR McGUIRE mentioned that Ms. Glaiser was "nodding, 'No.'"                                                                   
4:28:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MYRL THOMPSON  relayed that  he is  the past  chair of  the group                                                               
that  worked  to recall  Senator  Ogan,  and  that he's  been  an                                                               
independent  candidate  for the  Alaska  State  Legislature.   He                                                               
concurred  with Dr.  Sonneman's comments,  and characterized  the                                                               
aforementioned  proposed  amendment  by  Representative  Gara  as                                                               
pertinent and as something that  can only improve both the system                                                               
and  people's  perception  of  it.   Referring  to  the  proposed                                                               
amendment  labeled  G.12,  he,  too, noted  that  the  amount  of                                                               
deposit required for  the recount of a House  district race jumps                                                               
from $750 to $10,000, and characterized this as a huge jump.                                                                    
MR.  THOMPSON   remarked  that  as  an   independent  House  seat                                                               
candidate, if  he were  to "fail  the automatic  count" by  a few                                                               
votes,  it would  be literally  impossible to  for him  to gather                                                               
$10,000 in the short amount of  time allotted.  He noted that his                                                               
major in college was political  science, and relayed that a study                                                               
from the '80s showed that being  first on the ballot did not make                                                               
a big difference for candidates  with a party affiliation but did                                                               
make  a  3-5  percent  difference   for  those  without  a  party                                                               
affiliation.  He  relayed that he is  also wholeheartedly against                                                               
any proposed  amendment that would  remove the payment of  $1 per                                                               
signature for recalls, initiatives, and referendums.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG thanked  Mr. Thompson  for his  work on                                                               
the issues raised by HB 94.                                                                                                     
4:33:05 PM                                                                                                                    
KEN JACOBUS said he had four points to discuss:                                                                                 
     [The]   first   point   is   independent   presidential                                                                    
     candidates.  It's  good that you put  this provision in                                                                    
     the bill,  it should stay  there, [and] it  should have                                                                    
     been in  there a long time  ago.  It's required  by the                                                                    
     U.S. Constitution,  we're the 50th state  to adopt such                                                                    
     a  provision, [and]  you  avoided  litigation by  doing                                                                    
     that. ...  The second point  is on positional bias.   I                                                                    
     think  that there  definitely is  positional bias,  and                                                                    
     what has  been proposed  ... doesn't solve  the problem                                                                    
     entirely because it doesn't  solve positional bias with                                                                    
     respect to all the elections,  but it does the best job                                                                    
     of  solving positional  bias  without additional  cost,                                                                    
     and I support that  wholeheartedly.  Basically what you                                                                    
     get  is   a  ...   fairer  election   without  spending                                                                    
     additional dollars on it; so that's a real good idea.                                                                      
     [The] third  point:   for signing  referendum petitions                                                                    
     and  initiative  petitions,  you require  printing  the                                                                    
     voter's name,  date of birth,  [and] address.   And the                                                                    
     date of  birth [is  what] you  are identifying  as [an]                                                                    
     additional identifier.  ... Section  30 is  an example,                                                                    
     [and] that  again appears [in]  ... several  places ...                                                                    
     [such as] Section  26.  Basically the  point I'm making                                                                    
     is  that  the date  of  birth  is only  one  additional                                                                    
     identifier  that   you  can  use.     Historically,  on                                                                    
     petitions, we've  used date of birth,  we've used voter                                                                    
     registration number,  [and] we've used  social security                                                                    
     number.   Sometimes it's difficult  to get the  date of                                                                    
     birth  from  people,  so  if  you  want  an  additional                                                                    
     identifier,  I  would  suggest   that  you  change  the                                                                    
     [words] "date  of birth" to "an  additional identifier"                                                                    
         and let the people who circulate the petitions                                                                         
       determine what that additional identifier will be,                                                                       
     depending upon what the signer is willing to give.                                                                         
CHAIR McGUIRE asked Mr. Jacobus  for examples of identifiers that                                                               
he's seen used.                                                                                                                 
MR. JACOBUS  said social security numbers  and voter registration                                                               
numbers.  He  suggested that using the date of  birth without the                                                               
year would  work as  an additional  identifier while  also having                                                               
the benefit of not requiring people to admit how old they are.                                                                  
4:35:48 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. GLAISER, in  response to a question, said that  if someone is                                                               
just allowed to  pick his/her own identifier,  the division would                                                               
not be able to qualify such  persons if that chosen identifier is                                                               
not in  the division's database  system, and noted that  the goal                                                               
of  the  division  is  to   increase  ways  of  qualifying  voter                                                               
MR. JACOBUS  said he  agrees, and offered  that being  allowed to                                                               
use  either  a  voter  registration  number,  a  social  security                                                               
number, or a date of birth would be satisfactory.                                                                               
CHAIR  McGUIRE asked  whether an  Alaska driver's  license number                                                               
would work as well.                                                                                                             
MS.  GLAISER indicated  that perhaps  that option  could work  as                                                               
well, but would do more research on the issue.                                                                                  
MR.  JACOBUS mentioned  that  his concern  is  that the  language                                                               
currently specifies that only the date of birth may be used.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  relayed  that  he  would  be  offering                                                               
amendment that  would allow for  the use of  any one of  the four                                                               
identifiers just mentioned.                                                                                                     
MS. GLAISER reiterated that the  division is trying to expand the                                                               
ways in which to qualify signatures.                                                                                            
MR. JACOBUS referred to the  definition of a political party, and                                                               
suggested  that in  the interest  of  certainty, the  legislature                                                               
should  pick the  number  of  voters needed  to  establish a  new                                                               
political  party  -   for  example,  4,000  or   5,000  or  2,500                                                               
registered  voters -  and  then that  number  would never  change                                                               
regardless  of  how  many  people   voted.    He  mentioned  that                                                               
Louisiana does something similar.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  suggested  that the  number  ought  to                                                               
change as  the population  in the state  grows, though  given the                                                               
controversy  surrounding  the  issue  of  political  parties,  he                                                               
wouldn't want  to have  to be the  one to bring  it up  every few                                                               
MR. JACOBUS countered, however, that  if the state simply chose a                                                               
number,  then  as the  state  population  grows, it  will  become                                                               
easier for a political party to qualify.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG predicted  that  for  just that  reason                                                               
there would be efforts made to increase the number.                                                                             
MR. JACOBUS opined  that the ability for third parties  to get on                                                               
the   ballot,  particularly   if  they   are  formed   through  a                                                               
substantial number of registered voters, should be made easier.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG characterized that  as one of the policy                                                               
issues the legislature must consider.                                                                                           
CHAIR McGUIRE concurred.                                                                                                        
MR.  JACOBUS  reiterated  his  suggestion  that  the  legislature                                                               
should set a  threshold using an exact number though  not too low                                                               
a number.                                                                                                                       
VANESSA  TONDINI, Staff  to Representative  Lesil McGuire,  House                                                               
Judiciary  Standing  Committee,   Alaska  State  Legislature,  in                                                               
response to a  question, noted that current law uses  a 3 percent                                                               
threshold for a U.S. Senate seat vacancy.                                                                                       
4:42:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  McGUIRE relayed  that public  testimony would  remain open                                                               
and that [CSHB 94(STA), as amended,] would be held over.                                                                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects