Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

02/08/2005 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
                        SB  76-ELECTIONS                                                                                    
CHAIR THERRIALUT announced  SB 76 to be up  for consideration and                                                               
that he didn't  intend to move the bill that  day. He asked Laura                                                               
Glaiser to come forward.                                                                                                        
LAURA  GLAISER, Division  of Elections  director, explained  that                                                               
the notations  in the sectional  analysis for SB 76  indicate the                                                               
portions  that  already  received  considerable  discussion  last                                                               
She described many  of the changes as  housekeeping measures that                                                               
relate   to:  voter   residency   and   reference  to   temporary                                                               
construction  camps; registration;  the  option  to give  special                                                               
power  of  attorney;  the  ability  to  scan  a  document  as  an                                                               
application; transmission by facsimile; and early voting sites.                                                                 
4:38:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR THERRIALUT announced  that because this was  an overview of                                                               
the  bill, members  should feel  free  to pose  questions at  any                                                               
SENATOR ELTON  referenced Section 6 that  applies to notification                                                               
and questioned  how you might  apply the language change  from "a                                                               
newspaper  published  in  the House  district"  to  "a  newspaper                                                               
available in the House district" in  all areas. It makes sense in                                                               
Juneau,  he said,  but the  residents of  Metlakatla and  Cordova                                                               
probably subscribe to different papers.                                                                                         
MS. GLAISER  said regional supervisors  anticipate that  and have                                                               
clerks become familiar  with the communities in  which they train                                                               
the  poll workers  so that  they know  which paper  is likely  to                                                               
reach the most people.                                                                                                          
SENATOR ELTON asked  if the practice would be to  publish in both                                                               
ends of a  district if it is  as spread out as  the Metlakatla to                                                               
Cordova House District.                                                                                                         
MS.  GLAISER replied  regional supervisors  make  those kinds  of                                                               
4:41:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   THERRIALUT   remarked   newspapers   aren't   necessarily                                                               
published in the same area in which they're circulated.                                                                         
MS.  GLAISER  said   Sections  7,  16,  17,  and   18  relate  to                                                               
independent   presidential  and   vice  presidential   candidates                                                               
because there  were no  statutory provisions  to deal  with those                                                               
candidates in the last election.  The changes treat them as party                                                               
candidates so the candidate name appears on the ballot.                                                                         
The  change in  Section 16  places  more onus  on an  independent                                                               
presidential candidate than there would  be on a party candidate,                                                               
she said, but it's to show a  tie to an Alaskan base and validate                                                               
an Alaska candidacy.                                                                                                            
MS. GLAISER said  from Section 19 on most of  the bill relates to                                                               
initiative, referendum and recall petitions.                                                                                    
4:44:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON asked  whether the paper backup  that was discussed                                                               
last year meshed with Section 15.                                                                                               
MS. GLAISER replied that section  relates to standards for voting                                                               
machines. It  says the "Division  of Elections will  only utilize                                                               
systems certified  by the FEC  [Federal Election  Commission] and                                                               
all updates to  data management systems must  be certified before                                                               
the state implements the system."                                                                                               
4:46:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. GLAISER  continued her explanation  and said sections  19 and                                                               
on relate  to petitions  and recall.  They added  the requirement                                                               
for  a printed  name and  birth date  when an  application for  a                                                               
petition  is signed.  This will  aid data  entry when  qualifying                                                               
voters share the same name.                                                                                                     
4:47:50 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  ELTON said  he  was  curious as  to  why the  additional                                                               
identifier was restricted to the date of birth.                                                                                 
4:48:26 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  GLAISER  replied  the  date  of  birth  is  the  only  voter                                                               
identification that  is required  on an  application and  all the                                                               
others identifiers are optional.                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT added  everyone knows his or her  date of birth,                                                               
but not everyone memorizes a  Social Security or driver's license                                                               
MS. GLAISER said  this was a best effort attempt  to qualify more                                                               
people. Lieutenant  Governor Leman would  also like the  date the                                                               
petition  is  signed added  as  a  requirement. This  information                                                               
would make  it possible  to determine whether  or not  a petition                                                               
signer  was  a registered  voter  at  the  time of  the  signing.                                                               
Currently it's not clear that  you're required to be a registered                                                               
voter when  you sign a  petition. By statute, petition  books may                                                               
circulate for  a year  after which  the signatures  are verified.                                                               
The division qualifies  the signature after the  petition book is                                                               
submitted,  but that  doesn't  mean the  signer  was a  qualified                                                               
voter at the time he or she signed the petition.                                                                                
As  written,  SB 76  does  not  require  a  date when  signing  a                                                               
petition. If  that's an important  policy change, you  might want                                                               
to consider an amendment, she said.                                                                                             
4:51:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  ELTON  recapped saying:  "There  is  a possibility  that                                                               
there could be a requirement that  date of birth is important and                                                               
if  you're  going to  be  old  enough to  vote  at  the time  the                                                               
initiative  is  on  the  ballot  that  could  be  something  this                                                               
committee or  another committee of  the Legislature  could decide                                                               
to  use as  a cut-off  point or  whether they  were a  registered                                                               
voter at the time they signed the petition book."                                                                               
MS.  GLAISER replied  the division  believes that  if a  voter is                                                               
qualified at  the time of  data entry, he  or she is  a qualified                                                               
voter, but  they have no way  of determining whether or  not that                                                               
person is qualified when they  signed because no date is required                                                               
when signing. A  date column could be added to  the petition book                                                               
if that's what you want, she said.                                                                                              
4:53:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  THERRIAULT  asked  for  clarification  because  graduating                                                               
seniors are  encouraged to register to  vote if they would  be of                                                               
age before the election.                                                                                                        
MS. GLAISER  replied an  applicant becomes  a qualified  voter on                                                               
the day  they register,  but they can't  access a  ballot because                                                               
registration  must occur  at least  90 days  before an  election.                                                               
However, it would  be a test if a special  election were to occur                                                               
prior to that 90 days.                                                                                                          
CHAIR THERRIAULT asked  what date you would be  a qualified voter                                                               
if you turned 18 the day before the November election.                                                                          
MS. GLAISER  said according to  statutory language a person  is a                                                               
qualified  voter when  the  data entry  is  completed, but  their                                                               
ballot would count  only if their birthday fell 90  days prior to                                                               
the election.                                                                                                                   
4:55:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR THERRIAULT questioned  whether a 16 year old  could sign up                                                               
because he or she would be qualified to vote two years hence.                                                                   
MS. GLAISER said no.                                                                                                            
CHAIR THERRIAULT agreed  that they wouldn't be able  to vote, but                                                               
he was  curious whether they  could fill out the  application and                                                               
send it in.                                                                                                                     
MS. GLAISER  said it's a  question of semantics. "Yes  they could                                                               
send it in; no they would  not become a qualified voter." The key                                                               
is 90 days prior to the election, she said.                                                                                     
4:55:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR THERRIAULT questioned how  that matches with the initiative                                                               
process. He asked whether a 17  year old could sign an initiative                                                               
booklet since they can circulate for up to a year.                                                                              
4:56:20 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. GLAISER replied  she wasn't sure, but if a  person signed and                                                               
they were in the database, the signature would qualify.                                                                         
CHAIR  THERRIAULT  remarked  they  couldn't be  in  the  database                                                               
unless  they were  qualified a  maximum of  90 days  prior to  an                                                               
election. He asked her to continue.                                                                                             
MS.  GLAISER  agreed  then  went  on  to  explain  that  petition                                                               
circulators are required  to sign an affidavit  stating that they                                                               
are at  least 18 years  of age, an  Alaskan resident, and  a U.S.                                                               
citizen. Being a registered voter is not a requirement.                                                                         
They found  that in initiatives  requirements were  different for                                                               
signers, circulators  and sponsors  so the division  made changes                                                               
to make the rules the  same for initiative, referendum and recall                                                               
To add continuity, Section 34  requires the printed name and date                                                               
of birth  to be  included when signing  a recall  application and                                                               
removes the  requirement for the  additional 100  qualified voter                                                               
signatures. Also, the three sponsors  must provide names, mailing                                                               
addresses and signatures.                                                                                                       
Section  37  removes language  referring  to  a "duplicate  copy"                                                               
because  none are  assigned in  a recall  petition effort.  After                                                               
that,   posting   requirements   were  changed   in   initiative,                                                               
referendum and recall petitions.                                                                                                
5:00:15 PM                                                                                                                    
Section 43  defines voters that  are not affiliated with  a party                                                               
because there was no statutory provision  to do so and Section 44                                                               
relates to  recognized party status.  The division  wanted bright                                                               
lines  set for  verifying a  political party,  when it  becomes a                                                               
political  group  and how  it  would  reaffirm  its status  as  a                                                               
political party.                                                                                                                
Section  45 relates  to the  definition of  "re-registration" and                                                               
"statewide  office." Sections  46-48  include recommendations  to                                                               
Title  29 from  Department  of Commerce,  Community and  Economic                                                               
Development (DCCED) that works with local elections.                                                                            
5:04:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  THERRIAULT   asked  whether  committee  members   had  any                                                               
questions. There  being none, he  asked Linda Murphy  whether she                                                               
had concerns about specific sections of the bill.                                                                               
5:04:36 PM                                                                                                                    
LINDA  MURPHY,  Kenai  Peninsula  Borough  clerk,  said  she  was                                                               
concerned about the  sections related to registering  to vote and                                                               
requesting an  absentee ballot through power  of attorney because                                                               
it might open  the door to voter fraud. This  state makes it very                                                               
easy to  register to  vote and  apply for  an absentee  ballot so                                                               
consider  this  section  carefully  before you  act  on  it,  she                                                               
CHAIR THERRIAULT informed  Ms. Murphy that SB 36  deals with that                                                               
section  but  it  doesn't include  scanning  language.  They  are                                                               
trying to  make it  clear that  no party  or person  may position                                                               
themselves  between  the ballot  applicant  and  the Division  of                                                               
Elections  for  processing  sensitive  personal  information.  "I                                                               
wouldn't want  to open  up a  big loophole by  allowing it  to be                                                               
done by  an affidavit so  that section may  come out of  the bill                                                               
altogether," he said.                                                                                                           
MS. MURPHY said  she had similar concerns about  the section that                                                               
deals with registration using power of attorney.                                                                                
5:06:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR THERRIAULT asked Ms. Glaiser to respond.                                                                                  
MS.  GLAISER  explained that  she  made  a commitment  to  family                                                               
members  with spouses  or children  who  were stationed  overseas                                                               
unexpectedly.  The  recommendation was  for  a  special power  of                                                               
attorney  that  would  be  specific   to  voter  registration  or                                                               
changing an absentee ballot application.                                                                                        
CHAIR THERRIAULT said  he wasn't sure why  an individual wouldn't                                                               
have time to  address Division of Elections business  if they had                                                               
time to  tend to  the power  of attorney  and other  paperwork in                                                               
preparation for leaving.                                                                                                        
LAURA GLAISER  replied she was  ready to accept any  decision the                                                               
committee made in  that regard. To honor her promise  she put the                                                               
suggestion out for discussion.                                                                                                  
5:08:55 PM                                                                                                                    
LINDA  MURPHY  said  she  was  referring  to  the  initial  voter                                                               
registration  and  she  wouldn't necessarily  object  to  someone                                                               
correcting a  mailing address for  a loved one who  was overseas.                                                               
She agreed  with Chair Therriault that  if a person had  the time                                                               
to fill  out paperwork for  a power  of attorney then  they would                                                               
have time to  go online and get a  voter registration application                                                               
and get it to the Division of Elections.                                                                                        
SENATOR CHARLIE  HUGGINS said he could  understand the reasoning,                                                               
but it could open Pandora's Box.                                                                                                
5:10:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR THERRIAULT  said the policy  balance is to  accommodate the                                                               
few but not open Pandora's Box to the many.                                                                                     
Finding  no   further  questions,  Chair   Therriault  encouraged                                                               
members to  read the bill  carefully and highlight  any questions                                                               
so they could be addressed  in a committee substitute (CS) before                                                               
the bill was heard again.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  THERRIAULT  held SB  76  in  committee and  adjourned  the                                                               
meeting at 5:11:21 PM.                                                                                                        

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