Legislature(2021 - 2022)GRUENBERG 120

01/25/2022 03:00 PM House STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 66 ELECTIONS, VOTING, BALLOTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Invited Testimony by:
Paddy McGuire, Former Deputy Director, Federal
Voting Assistance Program; Former Deputy
Secretary of State, Oregon; Auditor, Mason
County, Washington
Amber McReynolds, National Election
Administration and Policy Expert; Former Election
Official; United States Postal Service Board of
Governors
+= HB 95 ELECTIONS; ELECTION INVESTIGATIONS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
*+ HB 267 CURING REJECTED ABSENTEE BALLOT TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
             HB 267-CURING REJECTED ABSENTEE BALLOT                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:39:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the final  order of business                                                               
would  be HOUSE  BILL  NO.  267, "An  Act  relating  to curing  a                                                               
rejected absentee ballot; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:40:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRAGE, Alaska  State Legislature, prime sponsor,                                                               
introduced HB 265.  He  presented the sponsor statement [included                                                               
in  the  committee  packet],  which  read  as  follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     HB267 requires the Division of  Elections to notify and                                                                    
     provide Alaskan voters the  opportunity to verify their                                                                    
     identity and  correct errors  on their  absentee ballot                                                                    
     that would  otherwise cause the ballot  to be rejected,                                                                    
     such  as  a  missing   date  or  signature.  This  bill                                                                    
     accomplishes  this important  goal while  promoting the                                                                    
     integrity  of  our  voting  process  and  strengthening                                                                    
     faith and accountability in our election system.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     In  the November  2020 General  Election, over  200,000                                                                    
     Alaskans voted  through an  absentee ballot,  more than                                                                    
     any  other election  in Alaska's  history. During  this                                                                    
     same  election, 1,118  absentee  ballots were  rejected                                                                    
     and,  in many  cases,  due to  minor yet  disqualifying                                                                    
     errors such  as failure to  sign or date a  ballot. The                                                                    
     option  to  vote absentee  has  long  been utilized  by                                                                    
     Alaskan  voters and  has  provided  an opportunity  for                                                                    
     those   serving    overseas,   out-of-state   students,                                                                    
     seniors,  individuals  with   special  needs,  and  all                                                                    
     Alaskans  an  alternative  to  in-person  Election  Day                                                                    
     voting.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     HB267  helps  to  ensure  the  right  to  vote  is  not                                                                    
     jeopardized due  to minor  errors on  absentee ballots.                                                                    
     It requires  the Division of Election  to notify voters                                                                    
     if  their  ballot is  at  risk  of being  rejected  and                                                                    
     provide the  opportunity to  verify their  identity and                                                                    
     eligibility  in  order  to  "cure"  their  ballot.  The                                                                    
     Division  may notify  voters  through mail,  telephone,                                                                    
     email, or  text message and  must do so no  longer than                                                                    
     three days after the ballot is rejected.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Ballot curing  has been a component  of state elections                                                                    
     for decades  and 24 other  states require voters  to be                                                                    
     notified  when   there  is   a  missing   signature  or                                                                    
     signature discrepancy  on their  ballot and  be granted                                                                    
     an  opportunity to  correct it.  This process  does not                                                                    
     allow  voters  to  change their  vote  and  is  already                                                                    
     practiced in local elections in Juneau and Anchorage.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     HB267   ensures  that   eligible  Alaskan   voters  who                                                                    
     participate in our electoral  system by voting absentee                                                                    
     have  the  opportunity  to  remedy  issues  with  their                                                                    
     ballot  and ensure  that their  vote  is counted.  Most                                                                    
     notably,  HB267 accomplishes  this while  upholding the                                                                    
     integrity  of  our  voting  process  and  strengthening                                                                    
     faith in our election system.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS invited questions from the committee.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:42:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  directed attention  to the  language  the                                                               
director may notify  the voter by telephone,  electronic mail, or                                                               
text  message   in Section  1  and  asked  whether the   may   is                                                               
operative  in the  sense that  the  director is  being given  the                                                               
authority to do  so.  He wondered whether the  methods of contact                                                               
listed on  page 1, line  10, should  be broader or  replaced with                                                               
the language any means available.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRAGE deferred to DOE.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:44:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  THOMPSON  offered to  follow  up  with  a response  after  a                                                               
discussion DOL.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:44:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN  inquired  about the  differences  between                                                               
CSHB 66(JUD) and HB 267.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRAGE  believed that  the relevant  sections are                                                               
identical.   He opined that  elections have become  a contentious                                                               
issue;  further, given  the pandemic  and the  natural geographic                                                               
diversity and challenges  of Alaska, absentee ballot  voting is a                                                               
critical  tool to  providing access  to voting.   Given  the fact                                                               
that  the witness  signature requirement  may  be reinstated,  he                                                               
believed addressing the  curing of a rejected  absentee ballot is                                                               
critical,  so that  votes are  not rejected  for small  mistakes.                                                               
Additionally, he  shared his belief  that a narrow focus  helps a                                                               
bill  become  more palatable  and  efficient  in the  legislative                                                               
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   KREISS-TOMKINS  remarked,    Effectively,  its    another                                                               
vehicle at our disposal.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:46:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that HB 267 was held over.                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 66 Fiscal Note DOE 01.06.22.pdf HSTA 1/25/2022 3:00:00 PM
HB 66
HB 66 Testimony Combined Letters of Support 1.24.2022.pdf HSTA 1/25/2022 3:00:00 PM
HB 66
HB 66 Written Testimony_Heather OClaray_01.19.22.pdf HSTA 1/25/2022 3:00:00 PM
HB 66
HB 267 Fiscal Note.pdf HSTA 1/25/2022 3:00:00 PM
HB 267
HB 267 Section Analysis.pdf HSTA 1/25/2022 3:00:00 PM
HB 267
HB 267 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 1/25/2022 3:00:00 PM
HB 267
HB 267 Version A.PDF HSTA 1/25/2022 3:00:00 PM
HB 267
HB 95 Fiscal Note LAW 01.14.22.pdf HSTA 1/25/2022 3:00:00 PM
HB 95
1.24_Final Draft HB 95 Presentation_1.25.2022.pdf HSTA 1/25/2022 3:00:00 PM
HB 95