Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/01/1999 08:15 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
HB 141 PREFERENTIAL VOTING                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES announced HB 141, "An "ACCU-Vote" providing for                                                                     
preferential voting in state and local elections," is before the                                                                
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 014                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES read JOHN FIELDS, Vice-Chair, Alaska Independence                                                                   
Party, Fairbanks, testimony into the record.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     I would like to speak in support of HB 141.  It appears to be                                                              
     one way of saving everyone money by eliminating primaries and                                                              
     runoff elections.  Preferential voting would also, I think,                                                                
     have voters back to the polls by allowing them to have the                                                                 
     option of voting their conscience rather than having the                                                                   
     illusion of voting the lesser of two evils.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Let's face it the two party system is, if not dead at least                                                                
     dieing.  Alternative parties are proliferating we need a                                                                   
     balloting system that offers today's reality not yesterdays                                                                
     pipe dreams.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES noted that a new CS had been drafted.  [Version L was                                                               
before the committee on Tuesday].                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 056                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON moved to adopt CSSSHB 141, version LS0069\M,                                                              
4/1/99, as the working document before the committee.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 075                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN objected because he has not had the chance to                                                               
review it.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON pointed out that the new CS would have to be                                                              
adopted before it can be discussed.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES reiterated the motion is to adopt CSSSHB 141, version                                                               
LS0069\M, as the working document before the committee and asked if                                                             
there were any objections.  There being none, it was so ordered.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 123                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
KELLY SULLIVAN, Secretary, Representative Kott's office, came                                                                   
forward.  She said version M addresses some of the concerns that                                                                
were raised by the Division of Elections.  Ms. Sullivan said the                                                                
language in the last committee substitute [version L] could have                                                                
been interpreted as a closed primary which would have been                                                                      
unconstitutional.  Therefore, the language was amended by adding                                                                
the word "blanket" primary.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. SULLIVAN pointed out that there also were questions regarding                                                               
the ballot layout and dealing with special advanced [overseas]                                                                  
ballots mailed to voters who are out of the country.  Version M now                                                             
gives more discretion to the director and the Division of Elections                                                             
on how they want the ballots printed and counted.  She said, "So we                                                             
don't have folks counting in the precincts there until 5:00 in the                                                              
morning because it is going to take more time."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. SULLIVAN noted that Section 3 permits the director of the                                                                   
Division of Elections to adopt regulations necessary to expedite                                                                
the manner in which ballot counts are accomplished.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. SULLIVAN stated that another concern was about write-in                                                                     
candidates and how they would be ranked if he or she received one,                                                              
two or three votes.  She said Section 4 prescribes a manner in                                                                  
which candidates (who receive the least first-choice votes),                                                                    
specifically candidates who are write-ins (who receive less than 25                                                             
votes) are eliminated, and then the second-choice votes are                                                                     
distributed.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 199                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES mentioned Kathryn Kurtz (drafter of HB 141) is present.                                                             
                                                                                                                                
KATHLEEN STRASBAUGH, Assistant Attorney General, Governmental                                                                   
Affairs Section (one of the attorneys who works with the Division                                                               
of Elections), Department of Law, came before the committee.  She                                                               
expressed her concern about the speed at which this radical                                                                     
departure from our usual procedures is proceeding.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH indicated that she really would have liked to                                                                    
explore election contests in Ireland and Australia to see if this                                                               
process has generated more or less litigation about counting                                                                    
ballots.  Do people double-rank candidates and blackout too many                                                                
squares.  She emphasized that these are the types of issues that                                                                
are looked at when systems are being switched.  She said the                                                                    
division wants some precedents, or a place with a long experience,                                                              
to tell them how this is going to work in practice.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH mentioned she overheard a conversation about the                                                                 
elimination of the district board - a removal from a local office.                                                              
She said maybe it's a good thing, maybe it's bad, but it's                                                                      
something that needs to be discussed.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 245                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH emphasized that HJR 31 [Proposing an amendment to                                                                
the Constitution of the State of Alaska requiring that the Governor                                                             
be elected by a majority vote if a preferential voting system is                                                                
provided by law] may require a constitutional amendment, which                                                                  
creates is a potential flaw in this legislation [HB 141].                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH said she believes Sections 25 and 26 was the effort                                                              
to deal with the open primary, however, it wasn't successful.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The director shall include instructions on blanket primary                                                                 
     election ballots directing the voter to mark candidates for an                                                             
     office within a single political party in order of preference                                                              
     and to mark as many choices as the voter wishes within a                                                                   
     single political party, but not to assign a particular ranking                                                             
     to more than one candidate or to rank candidates from more                                                                 
     than one party.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH said people will want to debate this on all sides of                                                             
the spectrum.  She reiterated that, in her opinion, that effort was                                                             
not successful - that new section changes the character of the                                                                  
primary.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES pointed out that HB 141 is trying to make sure that the                                                             
voters are able to vote across the board and to be sure that two                                                                
candidates, from the same party, don't win in the primary.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 277                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH said, "Because I don't think this does it, I was                                                                 
thinking (indisc.) it might limit somebody to - within a party and                                                              
it has the effect of not letting them do what they have always done                                                             
in the past; that's the way I read it."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES remarked that this doesn't necessarily do that.  She                                                                
said they currently can't take more than one party person in a                                                                  
primary and we don't want them to do that again.  And, if that                                                                  
doesn't work, let's work on that language.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked Ms. Strasbaugh repeat her testimony.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH said she had referred to Sections 25 and 26, page 9,                                                             
version M, and understood that there was an effort to solve that                                                                
problem.  However, Section 26 might be read to limit people to                                                                  
voting within one party.  If that is the intent, it might need to                                                               
be mentioned in the title, furthermore, the language would have to                                                              
be changed.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 315                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH said her final point has to do with a basic review                                                               
of bills - does this [HB 141] accomplish the objective?  She was                                                                
under the impression that some people, who are enthusiastic about                                                               
it, think it's going to assure majority support for the winning                                                                 
candidate.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH stated that, "In Scenario 1 [Provided in the                                                                     
packet], I'm not trying to tie this to anything that's going on in                                                              
Alaska, I'm just assuming - perhaps the presence of some relatively                                                             
strong third parties.  So, if you have to go to round three, have                                                               
the result of a third party, who's many people's third choice, is                                                               
winning.  This is something that can happen, it doesn't mean that                                                               
it will."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Strasbaugh to repeat, "many people's third                                                                
choice."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 346                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH replied yes, the third choice can win.  She                                                                      
explained that she had read on a Web site that the Irish Prime                                                                  
Minister, Mary Robinson, had floated to the top from a third                                                                    
position which may certainly give hope to alternative and third                                                                 
party candidates.  This may be an objective of HB 141, and it may                                                               
be the source of support.  She said she is not criticizing the                                                                  
objective, but that is one possible result of using the                                                                         
preferential voting system.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES pointed out that a survey was conducted by her office                                                               
regarding the 1996 election.  She said she asked her constituents                                                               
if "none of the above" was one of the choices would they have                                                                   
voted, and they responded yes.  Chair James said we must have a                                                                 
system that the majority supports, and people should fell like                                                                  
their vote will count.  They can have a second choice and know that                                                             
if it isn't a majority in the beginning that their second vote will                                                             
count.  She emphasized that she didn't want to see the two-party                                                                
system die.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH said people are going to have different views of                                                                 
what this does for them.  She expressed concern, based on what she                                                              
has heard, that if her third choice gets elected, whether that                                                                  
person really has majority support.  She indicated that the example                                                             
that was presented in the video assumed that we had a powerful                                                                  
majority that has broken into factions, however, they were able to                                                              
gather together to win because they really were in the majority.                                                                
Ms. Strasbaugh stated that she wanted to show that there were a                                                                 
number of other scenarios.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 439                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN referred to the third-choice winning.  He asked                                                             
if that occurred in Ireland.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH replied yes, she read that on a Webb site.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he wanted more discussion regarding the                                                                
third-choice winning to see how that might work.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES mentioned that she has been a member of organizations                                                               
which conducted their elections in this manner.  She indicated that                                                             
if Alaska didn't have a primary, there is the possibility of a                                                                  
second or third choice being grouped with another party with this                                                               
system.  However, she doesn't believe that there are enough other                                                               
parties that would cause this to happen.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH stated that she is under the impression that that                                                                
actually did happen in Ireland, that the Prime Minister was elected                                                             
that way.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES said that indicates that no one was popular in the                                                                  
first place because they had to go to a third vote.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stressed that he is concerned with the                                                                    
comment by the attorney that this may be unconstitutional as it                                                                 
relates to the governor.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 495                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES noted a constitutional amendment is in the Judiciary                                                                
Committee just for that reason.  House Joint Resolution 31 states:                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     The candidate receiving the greatest number of votes shall be                                                              
     governor except if a preferential voting system is provided by                                                             
     law the candidate receiving the majority votes will.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES explained that it just accepts preferential voting, if                                                              
the legislature would so choose.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH noted the constitution presently requires the                                                                    
greatest number of votes only.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES agreed with Ms. Strasbaugh.  She said it's narrow; if                                                               
one candidate received 30 percent of the votes and another                                                                      
candidate received 30 percent he or she would also win.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH referred to Representative Ogan's question regarding                                                             
what would happen if a person only chose one candidate.  She said,                                                              
"In scenario 2, I found that I could lose even if I was in a                                                                    
majority party.  If there is a strong third or fourth party, and it                                                             
dropped out, then I could lose my franchise.  That's the way I feel                                                             
about it, that's not what's really happening.  I had my chance to                                                               
vote several times and I chose not too.  But the one potential                                                                  
result (again assuming the parties are well within striking                                                                     
distance of each other) is that you still end up without a majority                                                             
because a lot of people said, 'By golly, I can only vote for my                                                                 
candidate, I can't vote for any other.'  And I frankly would                                                                    
certainly feel that way in a lot of elections, especially local                                                                 
ones."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Strasbaugh if she didn't have a second                                                                    
choice.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 533                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH responded that she often has a second choice but                                                                 
doesn't always, especially in a smaller jurisdiction.  She noted                                                                
that this concerns her a lot because, if the body politically                                                                   
chooses this system, they'll know what they're getting into but the                                                             
average voter may not know that.  She emphasized that the Division                                                              
of Elections can't direct people on how to use these choices                                                                    
[first, second, and third].  She said, "I think that if people                                                                  
decide they only have one choice, or even (indisc.) have two in a                                                               
situation where you're going down to your third choice you could                                                                
end up without a majority."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said there's a principle when you have multiple                                                             
choices on a ballot - called a short ballot.  And, if half of the                                                               
people vote multiple choices, and the other half vote for one                                                                   
candidate, it would be interesting to see if that would be a short                                                              
ballot and would heavily favor the person that receives only one                                                                
vote with no alternative.  Someone, who might be a longshot, could                                                              
say, "You want to elect me, just make sure you vote for me and only                                                             
me."  He said it might not be as blatant as that, but it could                                                                  
design a strategy to encourage people to do that which would give                                                               
them an unfair advantage.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES explained that a short ballot counts only when you are                                                              
expecting to have multiple decisions.  In other words, you're                                                                   
electing three out of five.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH said she tends to believe that that works for at-                                                                
large, where there's more than one candidate.  However, she doesn't                                                             
know if it would work in a preference if you had an at-large                                                                    
situation.  She said she was surprised to see that she might drop                                                               
out all together and not be counted and that wasn't what she had                                                                
expected.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 589                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA noted that was one of her concerns because                                                              
the first CS [version L] actually states that you're going to drop                                                              
out if you don't have other choices.  She said that is not the way                                                              
we were brought up to vote.  And, it's intuitive to us that we have                                                             
more power if we just vote once.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. STRASBAUGH emphasized that people need to be able to debate                                                                 
what their vote means.  She said she would like to read the CS to                                                               
discover what the counting, and other difficulties are in the                                                                   
language.  She noted that there are legal problems associated with                                                              
the practical difficulties which Ms. Fenumiai had described.  She                                                               
said, "And, when you start having access problems, you're talking                                                               
about the Justice Department and there won't be any precedents for                                                              
them to look at either."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES said this is a huge change and change doesn't come                                                                  
easy.  She mentioned that she has been watching the destruction of                                                              
the two-party system over the years.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES indicated HB 141 will move quickly through the                                                                      
legislature.  However she suspects it will not become law.  She                                                                 
said she personally would like it to pass because a lot of people,                                                              
who currently don't vote, will come to the table on this one.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 663                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
GAIL FENUMIAI, Election Program Specialist, Division of Elections,                                                              
Office of the Lieutenant Governor, stated that she is not going to                                                              
address the new CS because the division has not had an opportunity                                                              
to review it section by section.  She stated for the record that                                                                
the division would like to have HB 141 held.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI emphasized that there will be fiscal impacts.  And,                                                                
due to the sponsor substitute on Tuesday, and a CS again today, the                                                             
division has not had an opportunity to put dollar amounts together.                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES said she understands that the division couldn't                                                                     
possibly prepare a fiscal note at this time and agreed that HB 141                                                              
will have a huge fiscal impact.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI said she would provide the committee with Cambridge's                                                              
sample ballots.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES asked if Cambridge used the ACCU-Vote system but with                                                               
a different platform.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI replied yes, Cambridge uses different software.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 692                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHIP WAGONER, Republican National Committeeman, Chair, Legislative                                                              
Committee, Republican National Committee came before the committee.                                                             
He explained that voters, in a closed primary, must be a member of                                                              
the political party in order to vote for a member of that political                                                             
party.  In an open primary, a voter must be either a nonpartisan or                                                             
a member of the political party in order to vote in that political                                                              
party.   He said he believes Alaska is one of three states that                                                                 
have a blanket primary (California and Washington are the others)                                                               
where anyone can vote for a party-person and can mix and match.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER stressed that there is no change in this bill.  What HB
141 does, is it gives the voter additional rights of expressing                                                                 
their preferences in the primary system.  For instance, once they                                                               
decide who they want for governor, they could rank all the                                                                      
Democrats for governor.  If they decide to vote for a Republican                                                                
for the State House of Representatives, they can rank all of the                                                                
Republicans.  But to allow them to rank everyone in all of the                                                                  
offices, for all of the parties, would essentially give them the                                                                
right to vote not once, but for how many more times there are                                                                   
parties.  He said, "One person, one vote is something we all                                                                    
believe in."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 725                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER referred to Ireland's 1990 presidential election.                                                                   
Brian Lenihan received 44 percent of the votes as the first-choice                                                              
vote, Mary Robinson (who was elected) received 38 percent, and                                                                  
Austin Currie received 17 percent.  Austin Currie, who come in                                                                  
third was eliminated and his votes were transferred.  Fourteen                                                                  
percent of those votes went to Mary Robinson and 3 percent went to                                                              
Brian Lenihan.  So Mary Robinson ended up winning by 53 percent.                                                                
Mr. Wagoner said, "The beauty of this, in terms of ensuring that                                                                
the most representative candidate wins, is that the only people                                                                 
ever eliminated in this process are those that come in last.  The                                                               
person that comes in third, as the assistant attorney general                                                                   
stated, on the first-go-around is actually the most representative                                                              
candidate when you take into account all the voters."  He indicated                                                             
that often a person's second choice is more liked than people that                                                              
may be on the extreme.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER referred to the comment that voters will not understand                                                             
this system.  He urged the committee members to read the Vermont                                                                
Commission Report because junior high school students and high                                                                  
school students used this system and 91 percent of those students                                                               
said they did not have any difficulty in understanding it.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER referred to the constitutional issue on electing a                                                                  
governor.  He pointed out that there are two provisions in the                                                                  
constitution which applies, the first one mentioned by the                                                                      
assistant attorney general is Article 3, Section 3, basically says                                                              
most votes wins, however, Article 5, Section 3, states that the                                                                 
legislature shall determine the method of voting.  He asked, "Which                                                             
one of those sections prevails?  We could just avoid the litigation                                                             
by making the change that takes care of all of the constitutional                                                               
issues."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 774                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI mentioned that Vermont did have a commission that                                                                  
strongly recommended going to preferential voting.  She noted                                                                   
legislation was introduced but failed to move out of the first                                                                  
committee during Vermont's last two legislative sessions.  She also                                                             
mentioned similar legislation passed the Senate in New Mexico but                                                               
failed in the House.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked Ms. Fenumiai if Vermont required a                                                                  
constitutional amendment.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI replied that she is not sure, but New Mexico did                                                                   
require a constitutional amendment and that failed.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON indicated that if we could find that out,                                                                 
that might help the committee understand it better.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Fenumiai what the percentage of voters are                                                                
not of a political party persuasion.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 792                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI pointed out that the undeclared are 33.77 percent, and                                                             
the nonpartisans are 18.13 percent, combined it is 51 percent.  She                                                             
said, on a side note, John Lindback, Chief of Staff, Office of the                                                              
Lieutenant Governor has a copy of the Vermont legislation and that                                                              
will be provided to the committee.  She also noted the legislature                                                              
in Vermont didn't feel that the current system was broken so they                                                               
didn't feel the need to fix it.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES said we don't know what the political will is and the                                                               
two-party system is broken in the state.  She said she would be                                                                 
interested in knowing what those numbers are in other states.                                                                   
Furthermore, being independent is indicative of Alaska.  Chair                                                                  
James said she wouldn't feel bad if Alaska was the first state to                                                               
accept the preferential voting system.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI pointed out that it also appears back through 1992                                                                 
that nonpartisan and undeclared affiliated voters have been more                                                                
than 50 percent.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN remarked Alaskans are allowed to vote by fax,                                                               
is that correct.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI replied that is correct.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if that was done by regulation or by                                                                  
statute.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI replied by statute.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 825                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he has two concerns.  One is how would                                                                 
that be incorporated, and whether or not it has been addressed in                                                               
HB 141.  He said it also appears to be a violation of the                                                                       
constitution because Article 5, Section 3 says, "Secrecy of voting                                                              
shall be preserved."                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI explained that prior legislation specifically states                                                               
that the voter waived their entire right to a secret ballot by                                                                  
choosing to vote by fax.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if a voter can waive a constitutional                                                                 
right.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES indicated that she knew what Representative Ogan was                                                                
going to say because she shares the same feelings.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said, if you have a Democrat, a Republican                                                              
and a Green, you're not going to allow people to rank all three,                                                                
you're not going to let them vote across the board.  Is that right?                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER replied, "You don't now under the blanket primary."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said she wants to understand what this one                                                              
[HB 141] does.  She stated that this won't happen, under the intent                                                             
of this legislation.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER replied, "You're correct, it works the exact same way                                                               
it works now for blanket primaries.  The only difference is the                                                                 
voter has the additional option of ranking.  Once they've picked                                                                
the office, and the candidate they like in that office, they get to                                                             
rank all the candidates for that party in that office."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA further stated, okay, so number two, where                                                              
you've got a Democrat, and a Republican and a Green, this also                                                                  
can't happen.  You can't have one first choice going to a Democrat,                                                             
and then crossing over for a second for a Republican, third for a                                                               
Republican, or wherever.  That can't happen either?                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER replied, "That is for the same office."                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 857                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA clarified that we are just talking about                                                                
one office.  She said she believes a lot of people were confused                                                                
because the committee heard a lot of smaller parties testified,                                                                 
"Great idea, this will bring it down, let us people have second                                                                 
choices."  She emphasized that can't happen if it's the same office                                                             
- this won't happen.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER replied, no, all recognized parties are entitled by law                                                             
to get on the general election ballot.  That all other parties are                                                              
not recognized to automatically be on the general election ballot                                                               
unless they have a petition of so many names.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA clarified that then this could happen in                                                                
the general election.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-20, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 001                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER pointed out that all of the voters will be able to rank                                                             
all parties in the general election.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said, in the general this could happen.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGONER replied yes, because they're all running for the same                                                               
office.  However, in the primary election the Republican is running                                                             
for the Republican nomination, the Democrat is running for the                                                                  
Democrats' nomination, and so on.  A primary is a series of five                                                                
elections, one for each one of the parties.  And the voters, no                                                                 
matter how they're registered, will be able to vote in whichever                                                                
one of those primaries they want to vote in.  He said, "But under                                                               
current law we don't allow them to vote in all five, and under the                                                              
new law - we didn't change that."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA reiterated that the voters could choose                                                                 
within the party during the primary.  She said she just wanted to                                                               
be sure she understood that.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 035                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI drew the member's attention to information that was                                                                
found on the Internet regarding preferential voting.  She read the                                                              
following:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Under the Irish alternative vote system (AV) a lower placed                                                                
     candidate who picks up a lots of preference votes can still                                                                
     overtake higher-placed candidates and ultimately win the seat.                                                             
     The most recent example of a president winning through the                                                                 
     transfer of preferences in this manner was the 1990 election                                                               
     of Mary Robinson to the Irish president.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES commented that she doesn't know that that's bad,                                                                    
because in your second choice you're saying, "Okay, if I can't have                                                             
that one I'll have this one."  She said some people don't think                                                                 
their vote is going to count, so they don't vote.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 074                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ERIC SKIDMORE testified via teleconference from Anchorage.  He said                                                             
he is a resident of Chugiak and first heard about preferential                                                                  
voting when Jim Sykes ran for governor in 1990.  And, like a lot of                                                             
other people, he was confused by it at first but the more he looked                                                             
at it, the better it sounded because it does give the third parties                                                             
a more legitimate chance to get started.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE further stated, "The mathematics of it may be                                                                      
confusing, but then we're kind of mathematically challenged since                                                               
we've had these single-member districts and winner-take-all                                                                     
situations, whereas, the rest of the world has had some sort of                                                                 
multi-member districts or mixed-member party lists.  And I have a                                                               
list here ... and it shows the turnout rates, and the European                                                                  
countries that used a kind of preferential voting - and they're                                                                 
much higher than even the European countries that don't use it such                                                             
as Great Britain and France.  And the United States turnout is like                                                             
40 percent and lower in some of these districts."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE said he thinks the third parties wouldn't split the                                                                
vote in the perverse way that they do it now; you would get more of                                                             
a majoritarian kind of outcome.  For example, Senator Stevens asked                                                             
Jack Coghill not to run as a third party because he was going to                                                                
break into someone else's chance [of winning].  Mr. Skidmore said,                                                              
"I think that's kind of an unfortunate situation because, when I go                                                             
into Carrs [Quality Center] or Safeway [Stores, Incorporated], I                                                                
would be appalled if I only had a choice between turnips and                                                                    
broccoli, which is what our current situation gives us.  I would                                                                
rather have 50 choices on the ballot and be confused than to have                                                               
just two choices and not have anything like that."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 125                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE mentioned that there was some concern that the Bush                                                                
would have a hard time using the "computer situation."  He said he                                                              
thinks, in most cases, the second place votes would probably be                                                                 
decided in the urban areas where 90 percent of the computer-                                                                    
generated ballots could be counted.  So, it would be very unlikely                                                              
that you would actually have to go to a situation where it would go                                                             
down to the wire.  He indicated that elections, which usually go                                                                
down to the wire, usually happen in the winner-take-all situation.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE concluded that in the last election, in 1998, 41                                                                   
percent of the state legislative districts were unopposed by a                                                                  
major party candidate.  He said that's probably the reason people                                                               
are not showing up in droves to vote - it's because they have no                                                                
choices.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked Chair James if she intends to move HB 141                                                             
today.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES replied that is her intention.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he believes there are still some things to                                                             
digest and that CS was sprung on the committee only this morning.                                                               
He said HB 141 is a good idea, and that he's not saying the                                                                     
committee shouldn't move it.  He mentioned the Division of                                                                      
Elections has requested more time for consideration.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES reiterated her stand on the issue of preferential                                                                   
voting.  She read the following statement into the record because                                                               
there is absolutely no way that the Division of Elections can                                                                   
provide a fiscal note:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 211                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The Division of Elections understandably cannot provide a                                                                  
     fiscal note for the Committee Substitute for HB 141 until they                                                             
     know what the bill will look like.  Since we have been                                                                     
     requested to have this bill read across ASAP they cannot do                                                                
     that in the time allowed.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     After discussions with Tam Cook, Director of Legislative Legal                                                             
     Services, and with the House Clerk's office, we are informed                                                               
     it is allowed for our committee to do the following:                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     1.   Since a fiscal note was requested in a timely manner but                                                              
          the Administration cannot provide it in time for the bill                                                             
          to be read across immediately, we can move HB 141 out of                                                              
          committee without a fiscal note attached.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     2.   The Clerk can read the bill across with "Fiscal Note                                                                  
          Forth-coming."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     3.   Division of Elections will thus be given time to prepare                                                              
          a fiscal note in accordance with whatever changes our                                                                 
          committee has made to the bill by the time we re-convene                                                              
          after the Easter break.  Gail [Fenumiai] says this should                                                             
          give her time to have it ready by the time it gets to the                                                             
          Finance Committee.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 242                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said he would also like hold HB 141 because                                                              
he would like to have a chance to study it and provide some input.                                                              
He said "I feel awkward by trying to do it by making comments that                                                              
might have a hidden answer here."  He indicated that he likes the                                                               
concept, but there are some questions that need to be answered.                                                                 
Representative Coghill also noted that before the committee moves                                                               
a bill that doesn't have a fiscal note, he really would like to                                                                 
have the concept solidified.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said State Affairs is a good committee and                                                              
it does good work.  She noted that she would feel a lot more                                                                    
comfortable if she was able to read the CS before the bill moved.                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON pointed out one of his biggest concerns is                                                                
probably the applicableness to the constitution and the legal                                                                   
ramifications of it.  He said he believes HB 141 would be benefited                                                             
if it went through the Judiciary committee [not directly to the                                                                 
Finance Committee].                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON referred to the estimated of millions of                                                                  
dollars to implement a preferential voting system.  He indicated                                                                
that, knowing what the budget situation is and the general feeling                                                              
that there will not be any increases, could be an impediment to its                                                             
final passage this year.  He said he will support moving HB 141.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES agreed that HB 141 will have a huge fiscal note and                                                                 
that it will be a problem if the legislature were to pass this                                                                  
legislation this year.  She suggested moving it out of committee so                                                             
the public would be able to look at it.  Chair James said she will                                                              
put it to the vote.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 328                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN suggested holding HB 141 until Thursday so                                                                  
people can digest it.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES noted that it would then have to be heard a week from                                                               
Thursday [after Ester break] and suspected that the committee will                                                              
be no further along than they are today.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN indicated that he would like to offer an                                                                    
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES remarked that attorneys are available to assist in a                                                                
conceptual amendment.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES called an at-ease at 9:18 and called the meeting back                                                               
to order at 9:24 a.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 343                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON moved to report CSSSHB 141 (STA) out of                                                                   
committee with individual recommendations.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN removed his objection because he believes his                                                               
concerns will be addressed by the sponsor.  He also indicated that                                                              
there has been a lack of cooperation with the Administration.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 364                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA objected to the motion.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES suggested the Division of Elections list their                                                                      
concerns.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said she believes the Administration has                                                                
done a good job with the time they've been given.  Furthermore,                                                                 
none of the members in the committee has had an opportunity to read                                                             
the new CS with the exception of the chair.  She stated that, "This                                                             
is not a good process, it's passing the buck, this is what makes                                                                
people stay away from the polls."  Representative Kerttula said she                                                             
strenuously objects to this happening because she believes the work                                                             
should be done in this committee.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said he doesn't believe that there is much                                                                
public interest.  He indicated that HB 141 will either rise or fall                                                             
on the significant cost of implementing this system.  Ultimately it                                                             
will have to go before the people of Alaska for a vote.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 412                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL noted that there are still some questions                                                                
worthy of examination.  It's also true that the financial side of                                                               
this is going to be the major issue.  He said he intends to meet                                                                
with his constituents this week and will talk about the concept and                                                             
will focus on HB 141.  Representative Coghill stated that he won't                                                              
hold the bill up, but he will be following it.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES said, "I do believe, when we look at the demographics                                                               
of the voters in the state, we better find something that's                                                                     
different from what we're doing.  And we better find a way to make                                                              
the people's voice be heard."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 459                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Upon a roll call vote, Representatives Hudson, Ogan, Coghill, and                                                               
James voted in favor of moving CSSSHB 141 and Representative                                                                    
Kerttula voted against it.  Therefore, CSSSHB 141 passed by a vote                                                              
of 4 to 1.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 461                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON moved to report the message on the fiscal                                                                 
note out of committee with individual recommendations.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA objected.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Upon a roll call vote, Representatives Hudson, Ogan, Coghill, and                                                               
James voted in favor of moving the message with HB 141 and                                                                      
Representative Kerttula voted against it.  Therefore, the message                                                               
passed by a vote of 4 to 1.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects