Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/11/1996 03:32 PM Senate STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        SB 182 ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATION & VOTER REG'N                        
 Number 325                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP brought up SB 182 as the next order of business                
 before the Senate State Affairs Committee.                                    
 DIANE SHRINER, Division of Elections, representing the governor,              
 prime sponsor of SB 182, stated that the primary sections if this             
 bill are housekeeping sections.  Those sections would bring the               
 Division of Elections into compliance with the National Voter                 
 Registration Act.  Two substantive sections are Sections 21 and 41.           
 The division would entertain removing Section 41, which is a pilot            
 program for voting by mail.  The division feels that it is getting            
 too late in the election cycle.  The house thinks we should move in           
 the direction of by-mail voting, but that the subject needs more              
 study.  We would like to see a bill that addresses just the by-mail           
 voting subject, but after it's had more study.                                
 Number 260                                                                    
 KATHLEEN STRASBAUGH, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division               
 (Juneau), Department of Law, stated the Justice Department had                
 concerns with HB 303 (from several years ago), which would have               
 adapted Alaska's laws to the National Voter Registration Act.  The            
 concerns were well-taken, so we withdrew our request for pre-                 
 clearance to avoid the interposing of objections.  We are now back            
 before you to ask for some changes.  It really isn't the Justice              
 Department's job to enforce the voter registration act.  However,             
 they are entitled to address things which, in their view, deter               
 voters in protected classes.  For that reason, we have removed some           
 remaining references to oaths, and changed that to an attestation             
 procedure.  Section 7 is directed at having two election cycles,              
 instead of two years.  In the house, that was changed to four                 
 years, instead of two election cycles.  On page 5, line 5, she                
 thinks it should say absentee and mail ballots, instead of just               
 absentee, because there are some elections that occur by mail, such           
 as REAA elections.                                                            
 MS. STRASBAUGH stated it's true that their inactivation process is            
 not really a purging.  The National Voter Registration Act doesn't            
 use the word purge.  It does have a process for finding out if                
 someone can still vote or not.  There is a way to clean up the list           
 even under this law.                                                          
 Number 185                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS made a motion to adopt the State Affairs               
 Committee substitute for SB 182.                                              
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated the committee                    
 substitute was adopted.                                                       
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS made a motion to adopt an amendment to page            
 5, line 5: add "or a ballot by mail" after "absentee ballot".                 
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated the amendment was                
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS offered an amendment to page 14, line 24:              
 delete Section 41.                                                            
 Number 160                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked if there was any objection.  Hearing none, he            
 stated the amendment was adopted.                                             
 CHAIRMAN SHARP is concerned that not purging names from the voter             
 registration lists will increase the opportunity for fraud.                   
 Number 110                                                                    
 JED WHITTAKER stated there should be a bonified signature on a                
 voter registration form.  He doesn't think it's sufficient to                 
 register to vote by fax machine.                                              
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked what kind of safeguard there is on               
 MS. SHRINER stated she will look for an answer to that question.              
 MR. WHITTAKER stated that a lot of people don't vote anymore, and             
 there's something wrong with that.  Democracy is falling down.  He            
 thinks Section 30 would make it more expensive for candidates to              
 share information with citizens.  He thinks that should be free to            
 candidates, because they are performing a public service and trying           
 to uplift this flailing democracy that we have now.  Section 30               
 would raise the price for putting your position in the official               
 election pamphlet.                                                            
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked why the price is being raised.                   
 MS. SHRINER responded that the cost of that pamphlet is several               
 times the amount in the bill.  There hasn't been an increase to               
 that since the mid-1980's.                                                    
 MR. WHITTAKER thinks that infringes on the freedom of speech.                 
 Given the role that money plays in today's campaigns, he thinks               
 raising the price might be prohibitive to some candidates.                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP announced that the meeting needed to come to a                 
 close.  He asked the pleasure of the committee regarding SB 182.              
 Number 025                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS made a motion to discharge SB 182 from the             
 Senate State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated SB 182 was discharged            
 from the Senate State Affairs Committee.                                      

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