Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

04/04/2019 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
03:03:44 PM Start
03:04:37 PM HB98
03:08:36 PM Confirmation Hearing(s)
03:09:08 PM Commissioner, Department of Public Safety
05:25:29 PM HB115
05:42:50 PM HB118
05:52:25 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: TELECONFERENCED
Commissioner Amanda Price, Dept. of Public Safety
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 98(STA) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
                     HB 115-ABSENTEE VOTING                                                                                 
5:25:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FIELDS announced  that the next order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL  NO. 115, "An Act relating to  absentee voting; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
5:25:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHRIS TUCK,  Alaska State  Legislature, as  prime                                                               
sponsor  of HB  115, paraphrased  from the  sponsor statement  as                                                               
     House  Bill  115  would give  Alaskans  the  option  to                                                                    
     receive  absentee  ballots  by mail  for  future  state                                                                    
     Currently,  the   Permanent  Absentee  Voter   List  is                                                                    
     limited  to  Alaskans  that   reside  in  remote  areas                                                                    
     without  reasonable  access  to  an  in-person  polling                                                                    
     place,  disabled  voters who  ask  to  be designated  a                                                                    
     permanent  absentee voter,  and voters  whose permanent                                                                    
     residence  is  an  institution   serving  the  aged  or                                                                    
     persons with a disability.                                                                                                 
     House  Bill   115  would   preclude  the   Division  of                                                                    
     Elections  from  requiring  a   voter  who  chooses  to                                                                    
     receive an absentee ballot for  all future elections to                                                                    
     reapply  for an  absentee ballot  unless the  voter has                                                                    
     not  voted an  absentee  ballot for  a  period of  four                                                                    
     years  or  the  voter's previous  absentee  ballot  was                                                                    
     returned to the division as undeliverable.                                                                                 
     Since  the 1960s,  absentee voting  has  been legal  in                                                                    
     most  states as  a way  for eligible  voters to  cast a                                                                    
     ballot  without   being  at  their   normal  designated                                                                    
     polling  place  on  Election Day.  The  federal  Voting                                                                    
     Rights Act  of 1970  included protections  for absentee                                                                    
     voters.  Currently, eight  states and  the District  of                                                                    
     Columbia allow permanent absentee voting.                                                                                  
     House Bill 115  would give voters the  option to always                                                                    
     receive an  absentee ballot without having  to fill out                                                                    
     an   application.  This   simple  change   to  Alaska's                                                                    
     absentee voting  system would  make absentee  voting in                                                                    
     Alaska more  convenient for those  who prefer  the ease                                                                    
     of casting a ballot through the mail.                                                                                      
     Please  join me  in support  of House  Bill 115,  which                                                                    
     will strengthen our  representative democracy by making                                                                    
     it easier for Alaskans to cast a vote.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  referred  to  Hawaii's  voter  registration                                                               
application, which allows the applicant  to choose to always vote                                                               
by mail, unless  terminated by missing an election  or the ballot                                                               
is returned to Hawaii's Office of Elections.                                                                                    
5:29:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  about the  mechanics of  voting under                                                               
the proposed legislation  - whether a voter's name would  be at a                                                               
polling  place if  they received  and  returned a  ballot to  the                                                               
Division  of Elections  (DOE)  by  mail.   He  asked whether  the                                                               
proposed legislation represents a precursor to "vote by mail."                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK responded, "It can  be."  He added that under                                                               
HB 115,  voting by mail would  be an elective for  the individual                                                               
and not enforced  on everyone.  He mentioned that  he likes to go                                                               
to the polling  place to vote; however,  the proposed legislation                                                               
offers a convenience for voters.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE asked about the  process for applying for an                                                               
absentee ballot - by paper, online, or both.                                                                                    
5:30:47 PM                                                                                                                    
GAIL FENUMIAI,  Director, Division  of Elections  (DOE), answered                                                               
that currently DOE allows people  to vote absentee by applying by                                                               
mail, by facsimile (fax), or  through its on-line ballot delivery                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  referred to  the zero-fiscal note  (FN) and                                                               
asked whether  under HB 115,  there would be increased  costs for                                                               
automatically mailing out ballots for four years.                                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI replied that DOE  anticipates that under HB 115, the                                                               
increase would  be gradual.   It is  possible that the  number of                                                               
people  choosing to  vote by  mail would  become great  enough to                                                               
cause  DOE  to  reevaluate  and   possibly  request  a  budgetary                                                               
increase; however, at this time there is much uncertainty.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE asked  for  the number  of absentee  voters                                                               
currently [participating] in statewide elections.                                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI  responded that  it fluctuates from  year to  year -                                                               
from a primary election to a general election.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE asked for a  general estimate to project the                                                               
fiscal impact.   She  pointed out that  when the  Municipality of                                                               
Anchorage implemented  its Vote By  Mail, the cost was  more than                                                               
$1 million - substantially more than in-person voting.                                                                          
MS. FENUMIAI  replied that  in the  2018 general  election, there                                                               
were  25,807 people  requesting a  ballot  by mail;  in the  2016                                                               
general  election,  there  were   31,499;  in  the  2014  general                                                               
elections,  there  were 31,282;  in  the  2012 general  election,                                                               
there  were 33,940;  in  the 2010  general  election, there  were                                                               
30,400; and the 2008 general election had 45,769.                                                                               
5:33:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STORY  asked  for  clarification:   if  a  person                                                               
requested an absentee  ballot, it would automatically  be sent to                                                               
them for the next four years.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  responded  by saying  that  the  preference                                                               
would  be a  check box  for someone  to opt  to have  a permanent                                                               
absentee ballot.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  whether for  someone applying  for an                                                               
absentee ballot, his/her  name would be taken off  the voter list                                                               
in the  polling place or the  name on the mailed  ballot would be                                                               
cross-referenced against the names at the polling place.                                                                        
MS. FENUMIAI answered  that there are mechanisms  for marking the                                                               
precinct register, if  someone has voted already.   She expressed                                                               
her belief  that currently  DOE does not  have the  capability of                                                               
marking "requested  an absentee  by mail ballot."   She  said DOE                                                               
has checks and  balances in place to check  whether someone voted                                                               
a by-mail ballot  and at the polling place on  Election Day.  She                                                               
maintained that the  person's name would not be  removed from the                                                               
register;  the  register contains  every  eligible  voter in  the                                                               
precinct.    A person  requesting  a  by-mail ballot  may  change                                                               
his/her mind and go to a polling place instead.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  commented  that   she  highly  values  the                                                               
integrity  of  elections,  and   she  expressed  that  having  an                                                               
automatic  mail  out  for  four   years  by  checking  a  box  is                                                               
concerning.    She  offered  her belief  that  this  removes  the                                                               
accountability to make  a concerted effort to be  involved in the                                                               
voting process.   She suggested that having such a  check box for                                                               
receiving the  permanent fund  dividend (PFD)  for four  years is                                                               
abhorrent  to her,  because  she believes  that  the process  for                                                               
applying  for the  PFD should  be intentional  and should  ensure                                                               
residency and identification.   She offered that over-convenience                                                               
may encourage disengagement.  She  stated that she likes the idea                                                               
of reminding  people that it  is time  to vote; just  because the                                                               
ballot comes by mail does not  ensure engagement; and the cost of                                                               
printing and mailing is a concern to her.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK stated  that the intent of HB 115  is to make                                                               
voting  more   convenient;  because  of  that   convenience,  the                                                               
Anchorage    municipal    elections   received    much    greater                                                               
participation.   He added the  it provides convenience  to people                                                               
in  hospitals,   people  who  are  bed-ridden,   people  who  are                                                               
disabled, and people in rural Alaska,  who can only vote by mail.                                                               
He reiterated  the conditions under which  the permanent absentee                                                               
voting would be discontinued.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK   agreed  to   invite  testimony   from  the                                                               
Municipality of  Anchorage Elections to provide  more information                                                               
on any election integrity issues as  a result of its Vote By Mail                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL,  in   response  to  Representative  Vance's                                                               
concern, commented that  one still must receive  the ballot, open                                                               
it up,  fill it out,  and mail  it back, therefore,  putting some                                                               
thought and time into voting.                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR  FIELDS  mentioned  that  the  mailed  ballot  is  quite                                                               
CO-CHAIR FIELDS stated that HB 115 would be held over.                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB118 ver M 4.1.19.PDF HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 CS ver S 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Sectional ver S 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Sponsor Statement 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Presentation 4.4.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 Supporting Document - Alaska Economic Trends June 2017 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 Supporting Document - Joint DHSS DOC Recidivism Reduction Report January 2019 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 Fiscal Note DOC-IDO 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Letter of Support - AMHTA 4.4.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 Letter of Support - Anchorage Reentry Coalition 4.11.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB098 Committee Substitute Work Draft ver U 4.4.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 98
HB098 CS ver U 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 98
HB098 Supporting Document-NFIB Letter 4.4.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 98
Dept. of Public Safety Appointee Amanda Price - Resume.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
VPSO Program Update - Alaska Regional Coalition 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
2019-04-03 - Letter to Rep. Fields.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
Dept. of Public Safety Commissioner Price - Letter of Support, Jim Whitaker 4.5.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
Dept. of Public Safety Commissioner Price - Letter of Support, Marcia Davis 4.5.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM