Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

05/11/2019 09:30 AM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved HCS SB 71(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 115 Out of Committee
                     HB 115-ABSENTEE VOTING                                                                                 
9:38:22 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  115, "An  Act relating  to absentee  voting; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
CHAIR CLAMAN relayed the events  of the bill's preceding hearing,                                                               
wherein Amendments 1, 2,  4, 5, and 6 failed.   He noted that the                                                               
committee   tabled   Amendment   3   [moved   for   adoption   by                                                               
Representative  Eastman with  an objection  by Chair  Claman left                                                               
pending] in order to seek answers to some outstanding questions.                                                                
9:39:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  moved to  remove from the  table Amendment                                                               
3,  labeled   31-LS0213\A.3,  Bullard,  5/2/19,  which   read  as                                                               
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          Delete "or"                                                                                                           
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          Insert "; or                                                                                                          
               (3)  a person at an address to which an                                                                          
     absentee  ballot is  sent under  this section  provides                                                                    
     evidence satisfactory  to the  division that  the voter                                                                    
     to whom  the absentee ballot  was sent no  longer lives                                                                    
     or receives mail at the address."                                                                                          
There being no objection, Amendment 3 was before the committee.                                                                 
9:39:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS  TUCK, Alaska State Legislature,  the bill's                                                               
prime  sponsor, said  he would  like to  confirm that  if someone                                                               
were  to  write "not  at  this  address"  on an  absentee  ballot                                                               
envelope  and  return  it  through the  mail,  the  ballot  would                                                               
qualify as "undeliverable" and therefore  would be covered by the                                                               
bill as drafted.                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CLAMAN asked  if  it is  Representative  Tuck's view  that                                                               
Amendment 3 is unnecessary.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  said yes.   He added  that he would  like to                                                               
confirm that with DOE.                                                                                                          
9:40:10 AM                                                                                                                    
GAIL  FENUMIAI, Director,  Division of  Elections, Office  of the                                                               
Lieutenant Governor, confirmed  that she has reviewed  HB 115 and                                                               
Amendment  3.    She  said   DOE,  upon  considering  information                                                               
received from someone  residing at an address where  a ballot was                                                               
sent, would  determine that the  voter's condition  status should                                                               
be  changed to  "undeliverable."   She noted  that DOE  would not                                                               
know that  a voter's status  should be  changed if the  ballot is                                                               
not returned by the person who now lives at the address.                                                                        
CHAIR CLAMAN  asked if  DOE has existing  regulations for  how to                                                               
determine whether  a ballot is  undeliverable and how  to address                                                               
such a situation.                                                                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI  said she  cannot recall  if there  are regulations.                                                               
She said  that when DOE  receives mail returned  as undeliverable                                                               
by the United States Postal  Service, DOE can change that voter's                                                               
condition status  to "undeliverable."   She said  [returned mail]                                                               
is also one of the factors used  by DOE when it conducts its list                                                               
maintenance process according to federal law.                                                                                   
CHAIR CLAMAN  asked for verification that  DOE's list maintenance                                                               
is governed by federal law requirements and not by state law.                                                                   
MS. FENUMIAI said that is correct.   She mentioned that the State                                                               
of Alaska's (SOA)  list maintenance laws are  formulated based on                                                               
federal law in the National Voter Registration Act.                                                                             
9:42:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STUTES   asked  Ms.  Fenumiai  to   confirm  that                                                               
Amendment 3 would be redundant.                                                                                                 
MS.  FENUMIAI  answered,  "I  believe  so."    She  said  if  the                                                               
individual who now resides at  the address contacts DOE and says,                                                               
"this person no longer lives  here," DOE would ask the individual                                                               
to indicate that on the envelope  and return it through the mail.                                                               
She said DOE would accept that as an undeliverable ballot.                                                                      
9:43:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  noted  that  a question  was  raised  at  a                                                               
previous hearing  about how much it  costs to mail out  a ballot.                                                               
He relayed that  Representative Eastman had said  it costs $2.50.                                                               
Representative Wool  explained that the implication  was that for                                                               
every ballot not sent out, the savings  to DOE is $2.50.  He said                                                               
he would like to verify that information.                                                                                       
MS. FENUMIAI  said the dollar  amount provided  to Representative                                                               
Eastman  on   was  the   per  ballot   cost  of   all  envelopes,                                                               
instructions, and  postage, plus  printing costs.   She  said DOE                                                               
would be saving $2.50 based on  the last batch of printing it did                                                               
if it did not have to send out an individual ballot.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked  if it as simple as a  per ballot cost,                                                               
or if $2.50 is the cost of  "the whole program" and DOE would not                                                               
necessarily save that much  money if it were to send  out 5 or 10                                                               
or 100 fewer ballots.                                                                                                           
MS. FUNUMIAI  answered that  $2.50 is  the cost  of a  per ballot                                                               
package based  on an  average of supplies  ordered over  the past                                                               
several  years.    She  clarified  that  it  is  probably  not  a                                                               
consistent per  ballot charge.   She noted  that DOE  would still                                                               
have supplies available as it orders its materials in bulk.                                                                     
9:45:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  said she  was going  to ask  whether there                                                               
are leftover  supplies after DOE  sends out its ballots,  but the                                                               
answer has  already been  provided.  She  said that  would reduce                                                               
the per ballot cost.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  CLAMAN  posited  that  the one  fixed  cost  for  absentee                                                               
ballots is the postage.   He commented that ordering materials in                                                               
bulk results in per piece savings.                                                                                              
9:45:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN  maintained his objection  to adopting  Amendment 3.                                                               
He noted that the prime sponsor  of HB 115 no longer supports the                                                               
adoption of Amendment 3.                                                                                                        
A roll call  vote was taken.  Representative  Wool, Shaw, Stutes,                                                               
and  Claman  voted  against adopting  Amendment  3.    Therefore,                                                               
Amendment 3 failed by a vote of 0-4.                                                                                            
9:47:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked if the  question of  special elections                                                               
raised at the  previous hearing was resolved.  He  noted that the                                                               
bill  calls for  absentee  ballots  to be  sent  for all  [future                                                               
regularly scheduled state  elections].  He said he  does not know                                                               
if that would include special elections.                                                                                        
CHAIR  CLAMAN  asked  Ms.  Fenumiai   if  absentee  voters  would                                                               
automatically receive  a ballot for special  elections should the                                                               
bill, as proposed, become law.                                                                                                  
MS.  FENUMIAI  noted  that  she  is  not  an  attorney,  but  her                                                               
interpretation  of  the  term "regularly"  means  a  consistently                                                               
scheduled  election.   She clarified  that this  would mean  only                                                               
state primaries and state general elections.                                                                                    
9:48:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN asked whether Representative  Tuck would prefer that                                                               
the  bill be  held so  that  an amendment  resolving the  special                                                               
election  question can  be drafted  and offered,  or if  he would                                                               
prefer trying to amend the bill when it reaches the House floor.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said  he thinks a floor vote  on changing the                                                               
language to "all state elections" would be noncontroversial.                                                                    
CHAIR  CLAMAN   said  it  sounds  like   Representative  Tuck  is                                                               
comfortable with the committee moving the bill.                                                                                 
9:49:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  noted  that  HB  115  would  expand  the                                                               
frequency  of absentee  voting.   He expressed  concern that  the                                                               
bill does  not include  any additional  checks against  fraud nor                                                               
provisions ensuring cost-effectiveness.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  commented that  she is  happy that  HB 115                                                               
would  enable people  who do  not currently  vote to  vote.   She                                                               
opined that  it is a  good thing for the  people of Alaska.   She                                                               
thanked Representative Tuck for bringing it forward.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL echoed Representative  Stutes's comments.  He                                                               
said he  is not concerned  with "erring on  the side of  too many                                                               
CHAIR  CLAMAN  echoed  those  sentiments.   He  relayed  that  he                                                               
recently saw  a photo from 1994  of long lines of  South Africans                                                               
waiting to vote in that  country's first free and open elections.                                                               
He noted  that voter  turnout was approximately  95 percent.   He                                                               
said  he wishes  the United  States of  America could  generate a                                                               
voter turnout  rate like that.   He noted  that there has  been a                                                               
significant increase  in participation in municipal  elections in                                                               
the Municipality of  Anchorage ever since it  switched to mail-in                                                               
voting.   He opined  that anything that  improves voting  is good                                                               
for democracy.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SHAW  echoed the  positive values of  HB 115.   He                                                               
opined, "We probably  could save a lot more money  with this bill                                                               
than we can  with the amount of amendments  that sometimes follow                                                               
through on  a bill, so I  think we are  way ahead of the  game by                                                               
passing this bill."                                                                                                             
9:51:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  moved to  report HB  115 out  of committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and  attached fiscal note.  There                                                               
being no objection, HB 115  was reported from the House Judiciary                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB071 ver S 5.10.19.PDF HJUD 5/10/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
SB 71
SB071 Sponsor Statement 5.10.19.pdf HJUD 5/10/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
SB 71
SB071 Sectional Summary 5.10.19.pdf HJUD 5/10/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
SB 71
SB071 Supporting Document-Statutory Instruction 5.10.19.pdf HJUD 5/10/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
SB 71
SB071 Supporting Document-Department of Law Approval 5.10.19.pdf HJUD 5/10/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
SB 71
SB071 Fiscal Note LAW-CIV 5.10.19.pdf HJUD 5/10/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
SB 71
SB071 Amendments #1-2 5.11.19.pdf HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
SB 71
SB071 Amendments #1-2 HJUD Final Votes 5.11.19.pdf HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
SB 71
HB115 ver A 5.1.19.pdf HJUD 5/1/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/3/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/6/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/10/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
HB 115
HB115 Amendments #1-6.pdf HJUD 5/3/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/6/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/10/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
HB 115
HB115 Amendments #1-6 HJUD Final Votes 5.11.19.pdf HJUD 5/11/2019 9:30:00 AM
HB 115