Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

05/07/2021 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled to 05/10/2021>
Moved CSSJR 5(JUD) Out of Committee
Moved CSSJR 7(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
        SB 39-BALLOT CUSTODY/TAMPERING; VOTER REG; MAIL                                                                     
3:46:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND announced  the consideration of CS  FOR SENATE BILL                                                               
NO. 39(STA), "An  Act relating to voting  and elections; relating                                                               
to  voter  registration; relating  to  ballots  and a  system  of                                                               
tracking  and accounting  for ballots;  relating to  retention of                                                               
election  data;   designating  as  a  class   A  misdemeanor  the                                                               
collection of ballots  from other voters; designating  as a class                                                               
C  felony  intentionally  opening  or  tampering  with  a  sealed                                                               
ballot, certificate, or package  of ballots without authorization                                                               
from the director of the  division of elections; designating as a                                                               
class C  felony breaching, hacking,  altering, or  tampering with                                                               
election  data  or  ballots;  designating as  a  class  B  felony                                                               
election fraud; designating as a  class C felony sharing election                                                               
data results before  the close of the polls on  election day; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
[CSSB 39(STA) was before the committee.]                                                                                        
3:47:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER, speaking as sponsor, paraphrased the sponsor                                                                    
statement [Original punctuation provided]:                                                                                      
     Senate Bill  39, updates Alaska's  decades-old election                                                                    
     statutes,  strengthening  voter  access  and  improving                                                                    
     integrity  so Alaskans  may  regain  confidence in  our                                                                    
     election  system. We  sometimes disagree  with election                                                                    
     results, but rarely  in our history have  we refused to                                                                    
     accept  them.  A  troubling  trend  has  emerged  where                                                                    
     entire segments  of our nation  not only  disagree with                                                                    
     election  results but  refuse  to  acknowledge them  as                                                                    
     legitimate.  It happened  in 2016,  and again  in 2020.                                                                    
     Whether these  concerns are real or  perceived, we must                                                                    
     find  a  way  to  restore all  people's  faith  in  our                                                                    
     election  system   as  it  is  a   cornerstone  to  our                                                                    
     Constitutional Republic.                                                                                                   
     "I began working on election  issues in 2018, involving                                                                    
     the accuracy  of Alaska's election  data and  our voter                                                                    
     rolls.  Problematic  areas  within our  system  created                                                                    
     integrity  concerns  and  irreconcilable  errors  which                                                                    
     limited  citizens from  qualifying  their ballots  when                                                                    
     the  Division  of   Elections  questioned  or  rejected                                                                    
     Alaska's  current   election  model   is  built   on  a                                                                    
     foundation   of  disqualification   and  rejection   of                                                                    
     ballots.  A significant  aspect of  SB 39  is to  shift                                                                    
     toward greater  voter inclusion with  the qualification                                                                    
     of ballots. "Voters should know  when their ballots are                                                                    
     questioned   or  rejected   and  be   informed  of   it                                                                    
     immediately. Ballot  curing is a two-part  process that                                                                    
     includes   immediate   voter  notification   and   then                                                                    
     providing  voters reasonable  time  and opportunity  to                                                                    
     correct   identified   technical   deficiencies.   Once                                                                    
     notified,  the  voter  should have  an  opportunity  to                                                                    
     correct  technical  issues  rather  than  the  Division                                                                    
     disqualifying the  ballot and not counting  their vote.                                                                    
     Curing of ballots is an essential component of SB 39."                                                                     
     Improvements   to  voter   access  required   extensive                                                                    
     additional   work  on   existing  statutes   that  have                                                                    
     contributed  to limiting  all voters.  Before the  2020                                                                    
     elections, only  two states  had clear  regulations and                                                                    
     policies for vote-by-mail procedures.  A new measure of                                                                    
     inclusion  is amending  the current  statute to  accept                                                                    
     additional types  of qualifying identification  such as                                                                    
     Tribal  identification  as  one example.  Alaska  is  a                                                                    
     diverse state,  and our  Indigenous First  Alaskans are                                                                    
     an essential segment with  unique needs not experienced                                                                    
     in   urban  communities.   "My  goal   is  to   include                                                                    
     additional    provisions     for    increased    Tribal                                                                    
     participation   and   for    more   opportunities   for                                                                    
     communities  to  take a  greater  role  in their  local                                                                    
     voting  systems,   just  as  some   larger  communities                                                                    
     already practice across Alaska."                                                                                           
3:51:38 PM                                                                                                                    
     Consistency  and  standardization  of protocols  is  an                                                                    
     overarching  objective,  and communities  that  already                                                                    
     practice   vote-by-mail   are  enhanced   by   improved                                                                    
     security  and  authentication.  Additionally,  absentee                                                                    
     voting improvements  expand the option to  voters where                                                                    
     they   may  request   an  automatic   absentee  ballot.                                                                    
     Alaskans should  be able  to vote  in the  manner which                                                                    
     suits  them  and  feel confident  that  their  vote  is                                                                    
     secure and counted.  If we shift to one  type of voting                                                                    
     or another,  we risk  alienating a  significant portion                                                                    
     of the population  and inadvertently suppressing votes.                                                                    
     This  is not  a bill  to suggest  one method  of voting                                                                    
     over another. SB 39 addresses  the quality of the voter                                                                    
     data, security standards, and chain of custody.                                                                            
     Another major area SB39  improves is voter registration                                                                    
     roll  accuracy.  Alaska  checks only  a  few  databases                                                                    
     against eligible  voter lists;  SB39 enables  the state                                                                    
     to  clean  the  voter   rolls  more  often  and  cross-                                                                    
     reference   a  broader   segment  of   other  available                                                                    
        databases. It requires third-party supervised bi-                                                                       
     annual audits  of our voter rolls.  Municipalities such                                                                    
     as  Anchorage use  state  data  for their  vote-by-mail                                                                    
     system. It  is self-evident that when  the state's data                                                                    
     is not  accurate, neither is their  vote-by-mail system                                                                    
     based  upon  the over  mailing  of  ballots. There  are                                                                    
     thousands  more  people on  our  voter  rolls than  are                                                                    
     eligible to  vote in Alaska. For  example, the Division                                                                    
     of  Elections  checks  our voter  data  with  31  other                                                                    
     states in  ERIC. Those other  19 states equal  over 135                                                                    
     million  people. Data  is also  not  checked with  many                                                                    
     local  and  national   sources  which  would  certainly                                                                    
     improve the accuracy  of our voter rolls. Do  we want a                                                                    
     60% solution or a  100% solution? Alaska voters deserve                                                                    
3:54:32 PM                                                                                                                    
     A cornerstone to  how SB 39 mitigates  chain of custody                                                                    
     concerns, and vulnerable or  compromised voter data, is                                                                    
     through  a  well-established methodology,  Multi-Factor                                                                    
     Authentication (MFA),  and best practice  data security                                                                    
     protocols, which  many of the most  secure institutions                                                                    
     utilize. 21st century solutions  have been around for a                                                                    
     long  time  and are  used  worldwide  in many  ways.  A                                                                    
     recent Biden  Administration report and  an independent                                                                    
     Harvard Journal  of Law and Technology  study recommend                                                                    
     states implement Multi-Factor  Authentication and chain                                                                    
     of custody  protocols to strengthen  election integrity                                                                    
     and ensure one voter equals one vote.                                                                                      
3:56:22 PM                                                                                                                    
     In addition  to Multi-Factor Authentication,  this bill                                                                    
     requires the Division of Elections  to adhere to the US                                                                    
     Postal  Service's best  practice  recommendation for  a                                                                    
     vote  by  mail  ballot  chain  of  custody  system.  By                                                                    
     utilizing the  USPS's existing ballot  envelope barcode                                                                    
     procedure,   voters  can   account  for   their  ballot                                                                    
     anywhere it is  in transit. Citizens should  be able to                                                                    
     track their  ballot from  the time  it is  shipped from                                                                    
     the Division until  received by the voter  and until it                                                                    
     is returned to the  Division. These systems also notify                                                                    
     a voter  if their ballot has  been questioned, rejected                                                                    
     and may  even include ballot curing  procedures. Nearly                                                                    
     everyone orders products online  today. Most things can                                                                    
     be  tracked,   down  to  the  minute,   and  a  precise                                                                    
     location;  we  can  also  do   so  with  ballots  using                                                                    
     election-specific   software   readily  available   and                                                                    
     already in use in many states for ballot tracking.                                                                         
     The   platform  for   elections  security   requires  3                                                                    
     critical pieces;  data security, accurate  voter rolls,                                                                    
     and a qualitative, secure chain  of custody. In October                                                                    
     of  2020, a  data breach  resulted in  113,000 Alaskans                                                                    
     having  their  personal   data  exposed.  The  Division                                                                    
     confirmed on the  record that the stolen  data could be                                                                    
     used  to  apply for  and  submit  ill-cast ballots  and                                                                    
     identity theft.  SB 39 addresses these,  and many other                                                                    
     concerns, by bringing Alaska into the 21st century                                                                         
3:58:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER said  he is working with all parties  in the other                                                               
body to address any concerns.                                                                                                   
3:59:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  stated she  appreciated all the  work done  on SB
39. She acknowledged that the  public sometimes makes comments on                                                               
an  earlier version  of a  bill. She  offered her  view that  the                                                               
sponsor's intentions were good. She  said she hoped Alaskans will                                                               
be open minded about the bill.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  SHOWER stated  that  the comments  about  the bill  were                                                               
initially negative but are more balanced now.                                                                                   
[SB 39 was held in committee.]                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SJR7_A.2.pdf SJUD 5/7/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR7_A.1.pdf SJUD 5/7/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 5 Amendment Package (SJUD).pdf SJUD 5/7/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 5 Legal memo.pdf SJUD 5/7/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 7 Attorney General Opinion.pdf SJUD 5/7/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 5 Amendment 7.pdf SJUD 5/7/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 7 legal opinion.pdf SJUD 5/7/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 5 Legal Memo 2.pdf SJUD 5/7/2021 1:30:00 PM