Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

04/11/2022 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSSB 229(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved SCS CSHB 157(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
        SB 39-BALLOT CUSTODY/TAMPERING; VOTER REG; MAIL                                                                     
2:46:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   HOLLAND  reconvened   the  meeting   and  announced   the                                                               
consideration  of  SENATE  BILL  NO.   39  "An  Act  relating  to                                                               
elections; relating  to voter  registration; relating  to ballots                                                               
and   a  system   of  tracking   and   accounting  for   ballots;                                                               
establishing an election offense  hotline; designating as a class                                                               
A  misdemeanor  the  collection of  ballots  from  other  voters;                                                               
designating  as  a class  C  felony  the intentional  opening  or                                                               
tampering  with  a  sealed ballot,  certificate,  or  package  of                                                               
ballots without  authorization from the director  of the division                                                               
of elections; and providing for an effective date."                                                                             
CHAIR  HOLLAND noted  that this  was the  fourth hearing  in this                                                               
committee and a committee substitute  (CS) was adopted during the                                                               
previous hearing. He  asked the sponsor if he had  any comment on                                                               
the CS.                                                                                                                         
2:46:50 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER stated that Mr.  Ogan would speak to the committee                                                               
2:47:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT   OGAN,   Staff,   Senator  Mike   Shower,   Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,  provided a  summary of  SB 39.  He                                                               
said  the sponsor's  goal in  revising election  statutes was  to                                                               
make it easy  to vote and hard to cheat.  The sponsor worked with                                                               
people with wide-ranging  views. He hoped the  process taken with                                                               
SB  39 would  provide other  states  with a  consensus model.  He                                                               
noted that  many states made  accusations and  floated conspiracy                                                               
theories.  He  stated  that  the sponsor  preferred  to  use  the                                                               
approach of consensus building in the committee substitute (CS).                                                                
MR. OGAN offered  his belief that voting is a  cornerstone of the                                                               
US democracy. He emphasized the  need for voter confidence in the                                                               
voting system.  Otherwise, he  believed that the  US would  be in                                                               
serious trouble.                                                                                                                
MR. OGAN  pointed out that the  Division of Elections had  a data                                                               
breach that  exposed personal information,  the voter  rolls need                                                               
updating, and  the public is  concerned about  election security.                                                               
He stated that  since the division follows  the current statutes,                                                               
the  legislature must  address these  issues as  a policy-setting                                                               
2:50:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. OGAN outlined  changes in the bill  to same-day registration,                                                               
including that voters must provide  sufficient proof of identity,                                                               
submit a  signed affidavit confirming  residency in  the district                                                               
under the penalty  of perjury, and vote a  questioned ballot. The                                                               
bill would  increase opportunities for poll  watchers and enhance                                                               
ballot security  and chain of  custody. Currently,  election laws                                                               
allow ballots to  be destroyed in the precincts.  This bill would                                                               
require all  ballots to  be delivered to  a central  location for                                                               
destruction,  which could  help  ensure the  security of  ballots                                                               
from the  time they leave  the Division of Elections  until their                                                               
2:54:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  OGAN stated  that absentee  ballots in  Section 32  requires                                                               
online  ballot  tracking  with  a  USPS  barcode.  He  noted  the                                                               
committee would be considering an  amendment that would allow the                                                               
division to contract with private sector companies.                                                                             
MR. OGAN  stated that  SB 39  would allow  for early  counting of                                                               
absentee  ballots  but   make  it  a  felony   to  disclose  that                                                               
information. He surmised that it would  cut down on time to tally                                                               
votes on Election Day.                                                                                                          
2:55:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. OGAN stated that SB 39  would tighten up late arrival ballots                                                               
with  ballot  tracking by  USPS.  It  would use  voter  signature                                                               
technology and eliminate  the need for two witnesses  to verify a                                                               
voter's identification. He stated that  if a voter makes a simple                                                               
mistake on  their ballot, the  division will  send a text  to the                                                               
voter, so they can come to  the division to cure their ballot. He                                                               
characterized  it  as  not  overly  burdensome.  The  bill  would                                                               
authorize the division  to mail out ballots  in small communities                                                               
when emergencies arise.                                                                                                         
2:56:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. OGAN stated  that SB 39 requires open-source  voting to allow                                                               
the  public  to review  the  codes  since  none of  the  vendor's                                                               
hardware  would   be  proprietary.  This  should   eliminate  any                                                               
conspiracy theories  about the  manipulation of  voting machines.                                                               
SB  39  would  create  new crimes  for  intentionally  tampering,                                                               
breaching, or  hacking ballots. It  would increase  poll workers'                                                               
pay since the division has difficulty recruiting people.                                                                        
MR. OGAN  stated that the  bill would offer a  permanent absentee                                                               
ballot provision,  although this  provision still needs  a little                                                               
work. He  indicated that  the committee  could decide  whether to                                                               
limit  the permanent  absentee  ballot to  four  years. The  bill                                                               
would require a strict chain  of custody for voting equipment and                                                               
it increases cybersecurity.                                                                                                     
2:59:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SHOWER   explained  that   a  risk-limiting   audit  was                                                               
different from  a forensic audit,  which provides a  money trail.                                                               
The  risk-limiting   audit  would  look  at   ballot  counts  and                                                               
registration.  He  outlined  some   concerns  with  the  upcoming                                                               
election, including  that the division  will have a  mass mailing                                                               
of ballots  with no chain of  custody. He was unsure  whether the                                                               
division  would  institute  a tracking  system  for  all  ballots                                                               
mailed to voters. He expressed  concern that the ballots will not                                                               
require a signature verification, and  the division does not plan                                                               
to  cross-check  the  compromised  voters affected  by  the  data                                                               
breach. He  explained that the  open-source algorithm is  to push                                                               
the  voter identification  data to  allow voters  to analyze  the                                                               
data themselves.                                                                                                                
3:01:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES asked whether the  division would require proof of                                                               
30-day residency for same-day voter  registration or if the same-                                                               
day registrants will merely fill out a form and sign their name.                                                                
MR. OGAN responded that the voter  must provide a rent receipt or                                                               
other sufficient proof in person and vote a questioned ballot.                                                                  
3:02:19 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MYERS  referred to  Section 23,  lines 25-27,  related to                                                               
early  voting. He  asked whether  this  provision switches  early                                                               
voting stations to in-person absentee  voting, making it a little                                                               
harder  to   vote.  He  stated  his   preference  for  preserving                                                               
anonymity, which was  eroded by creating an  envelope. He offered                                                               
his belief  that early  voting should use  the same  procedure as                                                               
regular in-person voting  on Election Day. Thus,  a person should                                                               
walk in, show identification, and receive their ballot.                                                                         
MR. OGAN was  unsure but believed that he filled  out an absentee                                                               
ballot form when he was an early voter when he voted.                                                                           
3:04:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MYERS stated  that he previously voted  both absentee and                                                               
early  voting. He  noted that  the Fairbanks  North Star  Borough                                                               
(FNSB)  allows for  early  voting  until a  few  days before  the                                                               
election, then it  switches to an in-person  absentee voting. The                                                               
state allows early voting through  Election Day and double checks                                                               
signatures against  the voter rolls.  He said the state  does not                                                               
allow in-person absentee  voting unless the voter  requests it or                                                               
votes a questioned ballot.                                                                                                      
3:05:33 PM                                                                                                                    
GAIL FENUMIAI,  Director, Division of Elections,  Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
responded  that  Senator Myers  is  correct  that there  are  two                                                               
distinct  processes  for  early  voting  and  absentee  in-person                                                               
voting. Early  voting takes place  in the Division  of Election's                                                               
five regional  offices. Absentee-in-person voting happens  in the                                                               
non-regional offices.  Some offices have  multi-district ballots,                                                               
others have single-district sites, and  some have ballots for all                                                               
40  districts. Those  are strictly  absentee-in-person locations.                                                               
It  is considered  early  voting,  but voters  must  fill out  an                                                               
absentee-in  person  oath  and   voter  certificates  at  polling                                                               
places, including  at the airport,  and the  university. However,                                                               
those  are strictly  absentee in-person  locations. It  is voting                                                               
early, but voters  must fill out the  absentee-in-person oath and                                                               
voter  certificates.   Those  documents   are  returned   to  the                                                               
division,  and the  voter's eligibility  is  determined once  the                                                               
ballot is received and reviewed by the Absentee Review Board.                                                                   
3:07:30 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KIEHL  asked about  open-source  software;  he was  only                                                               
aware of one  company for voting tabulators.  He wondered whether                                                               
the sponsor  could provide names  of other companies so  he could                                                               
verify  that the  committee was  not inadvertently  writing in  a                                                               
sole-source contract.  He related his understanding  that nothing                                                               
in the  bill eliminates  paper ballots  for special  needs voting                                                               
machines  with  voter-verifiable  paper trails.  He  pointed  out                                                               
everything in that process was re-countable and auditable.                                                                      
SENATOR  KIEHL wondered  why the  division would  use open-source                                                               
software if it is not the  best software. He suggested that if it                                                               
crashes more  often, it  could create more  hiccups that  must be                                                               
verified, potentially  decreasing voter confidence.  He suggested                                                               
the state  should use  the best software,  then check  and verify                                                               
the results.                                                                                                                    
3:09:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER offered  to provide the number  of the open-source                                                               
software companies. He noted the  one company he heard from still                                                               
needed  to   obtain  federal   certification.  He   indicated  he                                                               
consistently  heard the  public impression  was that  the current                                                               
company lacks  transparency since  its algorithm  is proprietary.                                                               
He noted  the lack  of transparency in  the election  process was                                                               
one of the  most problematic concerns. He  acknowledged that some                                                               
of the concerns  were based on national  conspiracy theories. The                                                               
Division of  Elections said  the state would  need to  go through                                                               
Dominion to obtain data pre-election  and post-election, which is                                                               
proprietary  information.  However,  that  information  would  be                                                               
available with an  open-source company and given  to citizens who                                                               
want it.                                                                                                                        
3:12:32 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND held SB 39 in committee.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 229 version G.pdf SJUD 4/11/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 229
SB 229 Summary of Changes (version G).pdf SJUD 4/11/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 229
SB 229 Amendment G.1.pdf SJUD 4/11/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 229
HB 157 Amendment #4 (G.4).pdf SJUD 4/11/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 157