Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/11/1996 03:32 PM Senate STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 adopted. 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 that. 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.