Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

01/27/2022 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved HJR 16 Out of Committee
Bill Introduction: Rep. David Nelson
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                 SB 167-ELECTIONS; FRAUD; BALLOTS                                                                           
3:33:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER announced  the consideration of SENATE  BILL NO. 167                                                               
"An Act  relating to elections, voter  registration, ballots, and                                                               
a system of tracking and  accounting for ballots; establishing an                                                               
election offense  hotline; relating  to election  fraud, election                                                               
interference,   and  election   official  misconduct;   requiring                                                               
signature verification, notice, and  the opportunity to cure; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
He  listed   the  individuals  who   were  available   to  answer                                                               
3:33:48 PM                                                                                                                    
JOSH APPLEBEE,  Chief of Staff, Lieutenant  Governor Kevin Meyer,                                                               
Office of the Lieutenant Governor,  Juneau, Alaska, introduced SB
167 on behalf  of the administration. He  paraphrased the Sponsor                                                               
Statement that read as follows:                                                                                                 
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
     This  bill will  improve voter  rolls, secure  absentee                                                                    
     and in-person  voting, and increase  the identification                                                                    
     and  investigation  of  election  crimes.  By  ensuring                                                                    
     election integrity,  this bill  will give  all Alaskans                                                                    
     confidence in the  election process, including election                                                                    
     This  bill   will  further   improve  voter   rolls  by                                                                    
     requiring  that  Permanent   Fund  Dividend  applicants                                                                    
     request voter  registration in  order to  be registered                                                                    
     and directing  the Division of Elections  to update its                                                                    
     voter list maintenance practices,  audit the voter list                                                                    
     every   other   year,   and  issue   reports   to   the                                                                    
     The  bill  will  provide more  secure  absentee  voting                                                                    
     practices by requiring  signature matching, notice, and                                                                    
     cure   for  all   absentee  ballots,   prohibiting  the                                                                    
     division  from  sending unrequested  absentee  ballots,                                                                    
     outlawing   ballot  harvesting,   allowing  voters   to                                                                    
     request absentee  ballots in four-year  increments, and                                                                    
     require  the provision  of  prepaid  envelopes for  all                                                                    
     absentee ballots.                                                                                                          
     The bill  will secure  in-person voting  by prohibiting                                                                    
     voters    from    providing    alternate    forms    of                                                                    
     identification    and   preventing    those   providing                                                                    
     assistance at the polls from influencing voters.                                                                           
     The  bill  will  further define  unlawful  interference                                                                    
     with elections,  election fraud, and  election official                                                                    
     misconduct, create  a toll-free number to  report these                                                                    
     and  other election  crimes,  and  require that  police                                                                    
     officers    receive   training    in   detecting    and                                                                    
     investigating  election crimes.  The bill  will further                                                                    
     ensure election  integrity by allowing  additional hand                                                                    
     counts,  prohibiting  private  funding  for  elections,                                                                    
     requiring  the  centralized   destruction  of  election                                                                    
     materials,    and    instituting    routine    forensic                                                                    
     examinations and strict  chain-of-custody protocols for                                                                    
     voting machines.                                                                                                           
     In  order  to  establish a  more  trustworthy  election                                                                    
     system,  we urge  your prompt  and favorable  action on                                                                    
     this measure.                                                                                                              
3:37:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO  expressed appreciation  that the  bill includes                                                               
provisions  from  many other  bills  from  legislators from  both                                                               
sides  of the  aisle. She  said  she is  becoming convinced  that                                                               
everybody is  benefited by election integrity.  She recalled that                                                               
in an earlier hearing Ms. Fenumiai  said that a hand count is not                                                               
possible with  ranked choice voting (RCV),  although Mr. Applebee                                                               
said that is in SB 167.                                                                                                         
3:39:29 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  APPLEBEE said  the provision  about  additional hand  counts                                                               
deals  with  a  form  of  risk  limiting  audits.  Currently  the                                                               
division can  recount by hand  one random precinct  per district.                                                               
SB 167 allows  the division to expand that if  something does not                                                               
appear right or they receive a significant number of complaints.                                                                
CHAIR SHOWER  advised that he  recently learned that  the correct                                                               
terminology for an elections audit  is "risk limiting audit," not                                                               
forensic  audit. He  asked Ms.  Fenumiai if  she had  anything to                                                               
3:40:54 PM                                                                                                                    
GAIL  FENUMIAI, Director,  Division of  Elections, Office  of the                                                               
Lieutenant Governor,  Juneau, Alaska, stated that  the hand count                                                               
verification process is required by statute.                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER  asked Senator  Costello if  she was  satisfied with                                                               
the response.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR COSTELLO said Ms. Fenumiai's  earlier comment was that an                                                               
entire  hand  recount is  not  possible  and  now she  heard  Mr.                                                               
Applebee say a  hand recount is already allowed  for one precinct                                                               
in a  district and SB 167  expands that if the  division senses a                                                               
MR. APPLEBEE agreed.                                                                                                            
CHAIR SHOWER asked  Ms. Fenumiai to clarify whether or  not it is                                                               
possible  to conduct  a  hand  count in  a  ranked choice  voting                                                               
3:42:39 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI  reiterated  her   statement  during  the  previous                                                               
hearing that it is not possible  to conduct a timely hand recount                                                               
of an election  that uses ranked choice  voting. Historically the                                                               
Division of  Elections has followed  the statute and done  a hand                                                               
count  of  a  randomly  drawn precinct  to  ensure  the  precinct                                                               
scanners are  accurately counting the ballots.  That process will                                                               
continue in the general election;  the State Review Board will do                                                               
the hand count verification on the 1st Choice on all ballots.                                                                   
CHAIR SHOWER asked Mr. Applebee to walk through the sectional                                                                   
analysis and discuss the fiscal note.                                                                                           
3:43:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE presented the sectional analysis for SB 167. It                                                                    
read as follows:                                                                                                                
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
     As  described in  the sectional analysis  below, this                                                                      
     bill would eliminate automatic voter registration for                                                                      
     PFD   applicants;   require   regulations   for  list                                                                      
     maintenance, the  precinct ballot count, and precinct                                                                      
     tabulators; prohibit Division of Elections (DOE)  from                                                                     
     accepting private  funds; create  an election  offense                                                                     
     hotline; prohibit  influence by those providing voter                                                                      
     assistance;  allow  DOE to  initiate  additional hand                                                                      
     counts;   require   the   destruction   of    election                                                                     
     materials; implement  signature matching, notice, and                                                                      
     cure  for   absentee  ballots;  provide  postage-paid                                                                      
     return envelopes  with absentee ballots; allow voters                                                                      
     to request absentee ballots for four years at a time;                                                                      
     prohibit  voters  from providing  alternate  forms of                                                                      
     identification;  amend   or  create   the  crimes  of                                                                      
     unlawful    interference   with    voting,   unlawful                                                                      
     interference  with an  election, election  fraud, and                                                                      
     election official misconduct; and require that police                                                                      
     officers   receive  training   related   to  election                                                                      
     Section 1:  This section, along with  sections 2 - 5,                                                                    
     31, and  32 of  the bill,  address voter registration                                                                      
     for  PFD  applicants.  PFD  applicants  will  have to                                                                      
     request registration  in order to be registered. This                                                                      
     section    clarifies    that    the    identification                                                                      
     requirements for  voter registration  apply only when                                                                      
     PFD applicants request registration.                                                                                       
     Section 2: This section directs DOE to register those                                                                    
     who   submit    a   PFD   application   and   request                                                                      
     registration. It also clarifies that PFD applications                                                                      
     may create new voter registrations or update existing                                                                      
     voter registrations.                                                                                                       
     Section   3:   This   section   requires   that    PFD                                                                   
     applications include  a way for applicants to request                                                                      
     voter registration.                                                                                                        
3:45:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI  asked for an  explanation of the  last sentence                                                               
in Section  3 on page  2, lines 16-18.  It says the  director may                                                               
require  proof  of  identification  from  the  applicant  if  the                                                               
Department of Revenue doesn't already have that information.                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE  replied that  is current  statute and  Ms. Fenumiai                                                               
could answer the question.                                                                                                      
3:47:03 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI  explained that  the division would  not be  able to                                                               
register a  voter if they  could not verify the  voters identity.                                                               
She offered to follow up with a more complete response.                                                                         
SENATOR KAWASAKI said  he was interested in  how the verification                                                               
is done now and if there is  a process for obtaining the proof of                                                               
CHAIR SHOWER pointed out that  it says the director "may" require                                                               
proof, not  "shall" provide  proof. He asked  Mr. Applebee  if he                                                               
wanted to  highlight some of  the reasons the bill  switches from                                                               
automatic  voter  registration  through the  PFD  application  to                                                               
registration for  those voters who  request to be  registered. He                                                               
noted   the   current    automatic   registration   was   causing                                                               
difficulties because  people who should not  have been registered                                                               
were in fact being registered.                                                                                                  
MR. APPLEBEE  said the administration  believes that  the changes                                                               
proposed  in  SB  167  to  voter  registration  through  the  PFD                                                               
application is significantly better  than just hoping that people                                                               
come to the division to register  to vote. The option to register                                                               
is offered with each PFD application.                                                                                           
          Section 4: This section requires DOE to send                                                                        
     notices   to   PFD   applicants   who   request   voter                                                                    
     registration.   These    notices   provide   applicants                                                                    
     opportunity  to  decline registration,  maintain  their                                                                    
     current  address, and  select a  political affiliation.                                                                    
     They also inform applicants that their registration may                                                                    
     be cancelled in other jurisdictions.                                                                                       
          Section 5: This section requires DOE to register                                                                    
     applicants that request  registration if the applicants                                                                    
     do not  thereafter decline registration in  response to                                                                    
     the notice from DOE.                                                                                                       
3:49:51 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE continued to read the sectional analysis.                                                                          
          Section 6: This section adds two new subsections                                                                    
     relating to DOE's list of  registered voters. The first                                                                    
     requires  DOE  to  adopt  list-maintenance  regulations                                                                    
     requiring  it  to  review  certain  records,  including                                                                    
     records of deceased voters,  those convicted of certain                                                                    
     felonies, those not qualified to vote, those registered                                                                    
     in  other  states,  the  number  of  registered  voters                                                                    
     compared to  the number of  eligible voters,  and voter                                                                    
     registration data breaches.                                                                                                
SENATOR  KAWASAKI said  the automatic  voter registration  on the                                                               
PFD  application asks  the  applicant  if they  are  a felon  and                                                               
advises that Alaska law does  not allow voter registration if the                                                               
answer  is "yes."  He  asked if  there is  a  current process  to                                                               
filter out felons.                                                                                                              
MR. APPLEBEE deferred to Ms. Fenumiai.                                                                                          
3:51:49 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI  said the  Department  of  Revenue (DOR)  currently                                                               
sends names to the division of  individuals who applied for a PFD                                                               
and would  also be  eligible to  register to  vote. The  names of                                                               
individuals  who  said  they  have been  convicted  of  a  felony                                                               
involving moral  turpitude would not  be sent to the  Division of                                                               
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  asked  if  the  division  has  a  verification                                                               
process for  the list it  receives from  DOR to weed  out anybody                                                               
who lied about their felony status.                                                                                             
MS.  FENUMIAI  replied the  division  takes  the information  the                                                               
voter provided  at face value  since they signed  the application                                                               
as correct under  penalty of perjury. The  division also receives                                                               
regular updates from the Court  System about individuals who have                                                               
been convicted  of felonies  involving moral  turpitude so  it is                                                               
able to identify  people who are currently  registered but should                                                               
not be,  but there is not a reverse mechanism for that.                                                                         
CHAIR  SHOWER said  the discussions  last  year highlighted  that                                                               
there is no  mechanism for cross checking and  it causes problems                                                               
later on.                                                                                                                       
3:54:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE continued to discuss Section 6.                                                                                    
          The next subsection requires DOE to select and                                                                        
     consult a  nationally recognized subject-matter expert,                                                                    
     to audit the list of  registered voters, and to issue a                                                                    
     report every other year.                                                                                                   
He said this should provide insight  into the status of the voter                                                               
database and what will happen moving forward.                                                                                   
          Section 7: This section prohibits DOE from                                                                          
     accepting   or  spending   private   funding  for   the                                                                    
     administration of elections.                                                                                               
          Section 8: This section and the following section                                                                   
     concern  poll watchers.  These sections  reorganize the                                                                    
     existing statute  and  provide that  political parties,                                                                    
     candidates,  and organizations may  have poll  watchers                                                                    
     during general, special, and special primary                                                                               
     elections, while only candidates  and organizations may                                                                    
     have poll watchers during primary elections.                                                                               
          Section 9: This section includes the deleted                                                                        
     language from the prior section, with the addition that                                                                    
     written proof  of a poll watcher's  appointment must be                                                                    
     signed by the party, candidate, or organization.                                                                           
3:55:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SHOWER mentioned  a letter  from a  constituent who  asked                                                               
what prevents  a situation like  happened in Texas where  a group                                                               
carrying AR-15 style rifles went to the poll to watch.                                                                          
MR. APPLEBEE deferred to Ms. Fenumiai.                                                                                          
CHAIR  SHOWER acknowledged  that the  bill does  not specifically                                                               
address that type situation but asked Ms. Fenumiai to comment.                                                                  
3:57:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.   FENUMIAI  answered   that   groups   have  typically   been                                                               
understanding  of  size  limitations  and  each  group  has  been                                                               
allowed to have one watcher in a precinct.                                                                                      
CHAIR SHOWER asked  if the division has any  authority to prevent                                                               
somebody or a group of individuals from being poll watchers.                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE noted that Tom Flynn  with the Department of Law was                                                               
available online.                                                                                                               
MS.  FENUMIAI relayed  that  the  first outreach  if  there is  a                                                               
problem would be to the police.                                                                                                 
3:59:47 PM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS FLYNN,  Assistant Attorney General, Civil  Division, Labor                                                               
and State Affairs Section, Department  of Law, Anchorage, Alaska,                                                               
advised that  other laws  in Title  15 and  in federal  law would                                                               
apply if there were a scene at  a polling place. Sections 8 and 9                                                               
would not diminish those other laws.                                                                                            
CHAIR SHOWER  restated his constituent's concern  about whether a                                                               
biased  poll worker  could  allow  a group  of  poll watchers  to                                                               
intimidate  and prevent  poll workers  from doing  their job.  He                                                               
asked if the bill addresses that type of situation.                                                                             
MR. FLYNN said he did not see that  in the bill but he would take                                                               
another look.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR REINBOLD  asked Mr. Applebee  why the  administration did                                                               
not support a  forensic audit of the 2020 election;  and if Judge                                                               
Crosby's decision  to suspend  the witness  signature requirement                                                               
during the  pandemic had an effect.  She also asked if  he had to                                                               
prepare the sectional analysis himself.                                                                                         
MR.  APPLEBEE said  the  Department  of Law  is  very helpful  in                                                               
preparing sectional  analyses. To  the question about  the effect                                                               
of the  court ruling he  suggested she  be more specific  but one                                                               
effect was that fewer ballots were rejected.                                                                                    
SENATOR  REINBOLD  asked  if   it  potentially  increased  ballot                                                               
MR. APPLEBEE said he would follow  up with a complete response as                                                               
to what  they saw and  whether or not  it could be  attributed to                                                               
the signature  waiver. He said he  would also follow up  with the                                                               
lieutenant governor's response about the forensic audit.                                                                        
CHAIR SHOWER stated that it is an official request.                                                                             
SENATOR REINBOLD said  that in the future she would  also like to                                                               
look  at  the  best  parts  of  both  Senator  Shower's  and  the                                                               
administration's election bills.                                                                                                
4:06:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER clarified  that he had asked for data  from the 2020                                                               
election  and for  a  risk  limiting audit  but  the request  was                                                               
basically denied.                                                                                                               
4:07:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  asked  if  the language  that  is  deleted  in                                                               
Section 8 appears elsewhere in  the bill. It talks about counting                                                               
in a place of voting in full view of poll watchers.                                                                             
MR.  APPLEBEE said  he  would  find out  whether  or  not it  was                                                               
specifically removed.                                                                                                           
CHAIR SHOWER said  it's a good point and it  goes to the question                                                               
of transparency and  faith in the election  process. He requested                                                               
a follow up response.                                                                                                           
SENATOR KAWASAKI recalled a state  that required poll watchers to                                                               
stand so far away they  had difficulty tracking what occurred. He                                                               
relayed his  experience watching  votes being counted,  which was                                                               
that watchers were just steps  away from those counting and could                                                               
hear and  see everything  that was  happening. He  expressed hope                                                               
that the language was relocated, not removed entirely.                                                                          
MR. APPLEBEE  mentioned a recent  Anchorage election  where there                                                               
was an issue of poll watchers having to use binoculars.                                                                         
CHAIR SHOWER  commented on  municipalities that  are free  to run                                                               
their elections as they see fit  while using data from the state.                                                               
He  also related  that the  state of  Colorado has  24/7 lockdown                                                               
after  an election  until the  vote is  counted. He  said he  was                                                               
considering that for his bill.                                                                                                  
4:10:35 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  APPLEBEE  said he  would  follow  up on  Senator  Kawasaki's                                                               
request but  he did  not believe that  language was  removed with                                                               
specific intent.                                                                                                                
MR. APPLEBEE continued the sectional analysis for SB 167.                                                                       
          Section 10: This section requires DOE to create                                                                     
     and publicize a toll-free election offense hotline.                                                                        
SENATOR COSTELLO said she likes  the idea of a toll-free election                                                               
offense   hotline   but   the  provision   says   nothing   about                                                               
accountability. She  asked if the complaints  will be publicized;                                                               
who will look  into the complaints; and whether  the hotline will                                                               
be  monitored  throughout  the election  process.  She  expressed                                                               
interest  in  working  with  the  administration  to  close  that                                                               
MR. APPLEBEE  said it is  a good point and  he would be  happy to                                                               
work on it with her.                                                                                                            
CHAIR SHOWER noted that his bill  last year had a similar section                                                               
that was much  more robust. That section was slimmed  down due to                                                               
push  back but  he was  willing  to amend  the bill  to make  the                                                               
provision more robust if there was interest in doing so.                                                                        
MR. APPLEBEE said that would be great.                                                                                          
          Section 11: This section prohibits election                                                                         
     officials and others providing assistance at the polls                                                                     
    from influencing the voting decisions of those they are                                                                     
MR. APPLEBEE said this clarifies  that poll workers are available                                                               
to help with  the election process but they are  not to influence                                                               
or vote for the voter.                                                                                                          
CHAIR SHOWER raised  a question about a  potential conflict given                                                               
that the ranked choice voting system  is new to Alaska voters. He                                                               
pointed out  that some voters  may need help  in how to  fill out                                                               
their ballot  so it is not  rejected and that may  be interpreted                                                               
as showing voters which bubbles to fill on the ballot.                                                                          
MR.  APPLEBEE  said the  poll  worker  could  assist a  voter  by                                                               
showing them a  sample ballot. The poll worker would  not touch a                                                               
voter's official ballot.                                                                                                        
CHAIR SHOWER commented that a poll  worker could be in trouble if                                                               
they  help a  voter  too  much. He  asked  if  there is  conflict                                                               
between the laws.                                                                                                               
MR. FLYNN said the existing  portion of the statute requires poll                                                               
workers to assist  voters and that will continue.  For example, a                                                               
voter may  get an error  message that  their ballot had  too many                                                               
non-sequential  votes, and  the  poll worker  could explain  what                                                               
that means  without influencing the voting  choice. Additionally,                                                               
the  provisions  prohibiting  electioneering  at  polling  places                                                               
remain and those apply with even more force to poll workers.                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER  stated that  this is  on the record  and if  a poll                                                               
worker gets in trouble the court can look at the intent.                                                                        
4:17:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  asked  if Sec.  15.15  specifically  addresses                                                               
activity at the poll, not absentee ballots sent to a home.                                                                      
MR. APPLEBEE agreed.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  SHOWER asked  if  his  question was  in  reference to  his                                                               
previous comment.                                                                                                               
SENATOR KAWASAKI answered  no; he was thinking  about helping his                                                               
mother  fill out  her  ballot. He  asked if  he  was supposed  to                                                               
decline to answer if she asks who she should vote for.                                                                          
MR.  APPLEBEE pointed  out that  he would  not be  serving as  an                                                               
election worker in that circumstance.                                                                                           
CHAIR  SHOWER said  it was  a  good clarifying  question for  the                                                               
SENATOR COSTELLO asked  if there is or will be  a plan to educate                                                               
poll workers about education on ranked choice voting.                                                                           
MR.  APPLEBEE deferred  to Ms.  Fenumiai  to talk  about how  the                                                               
division is  using the money  that has been appropriated  and her                                                               
plans to educate  poll workers. He added  that the administration                                                               
had  submitted  a supplemental  budget  request  to increase  the                                                               
efforts to educate the public.                                                                                                  
SENATOR COSTELLO  said it is  not addressed  in the bill  and she                                                               
would have that discussion with Ms. Fenumiai offline.                                                                           
4:19:04 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE continued the sectional analysis for SB 167.                                                                       
     Section 12: This section requires DOE to adopt                                                                           
     regulations for the precinct ballot count.                                                                                 
He noted  that the chair  and his  staff identified the  issue of                                                               
ballots being destroyed at the  precinct level and this provision                                                               
makes the process more transparent and accountable.                                                                             
CHAIR SHOWER said the idea is  to move away from policy decisions                                                               
at  the division  level because  policies  change with  different                                                               
MR. APPLEBEE continued the sectional analysis for SB 167.                                                                       
          Section 13: This section allows DOE to conduct                                                                      
     hand  counts  for  more   than  one  randomly  selected                                                                    
     precinct  in   house  districts,  except   those  house                                                                    
     districts that have only uncontested offices.                                                                              
          Section 14: This section shortens the retention                                                                     
     period for  election materials  from four  years to  22                                                                    
     months. It also requires that  used and unused ballots,                                                                    
     absentee  certificates and  envelopes, and  other paper                                                                    
     records be  destroyed at  one of  two locations  in the                                                                    
     state, with  the director witnessing and  certifying to                                                                    
     the destruction.                                                                                                           
          Section 15: This section requires DOE to provide                                                                    
     absentee  voters instructions  on how to  use the  free                                                                    
     online system for tracking absentee ballots, created in                                                                    
     section 23.                                                                                                                
          Section 16: This section requires DOE to provide                                                                    
     postage-paid return envelopes with absentee ballots.                                                                       
MR.  APPLEBEE  said this  provision  is  not  as refined  as  the                                                               
administration  would  like. The  concern  is  that postage  paid                                                               
envelopes do  not receive a date  stamp so there would  be no way                                                               
to determine when a ballot was posted.                                                                                          
CHAIR  SHOWER said  this  is a  reason to  have  ballot chain  of                                                               
MR. APPLEBEE  noted that the  City and  Borough of Juneau  had an                                                               
issue like  this. He restated  that the idea  is in the  bill and                                                               
the hope is to find some resolution.                                                                                            
CHAIR SHOWER noted  that his staff member voted  in that election                                                               
and his vote did not count  because of the postmark date. He said                                                               
this is a real problem because it disenfranchises voters.                                                                       
MR. APPLEBEE  opined that finding  an elegant solution  will make                                                               
the bill stronger.                                                                                                              
4:23:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO asked  if there is any evidence  that people are                                                               
not  voting because  they  do not  have a  stamp  for the  return                                                               
MR.  APPLEBEE replied  he did  not  have a  specific example  but                                                               
there  is anecdotal  evidence that  voting should  be as  easy as                                                               
SENATOR COSTELLO  mentioned the  importance of weighing  the cost                                                               
benefit and  questioned whether it  would be a worse  scenario to                                                               
count ballots that  were posted after Election Day.  She said she                                                               
is curious to know what Juneau did about that problem.                                                                          
CHAIR SHOWER asked if anybody had information about that.                                                                       
MR. APPLEBEE said he didn't  know about any resolution, but there                                                               
were several  thousand ballots in  the Juneau election  that were                                                               
not counted.  He acknowledged that Senator  Costello's point that                                                               
the cost cannot outweigh the benefits was excellent.                                                                            
SENATOR  COSTELLO  said  she  did  not want  her  comment  to  be                                                               
misinterpreted to  mean she did  not support supplying  a postage                                                               
paid return envelope if that makes  it easier for people to vote.                                                               
However, it  is a huge  problem if  thousands of ballots  are not                                                               
counted because  there is no  date stamp on the  return envelope.                                                               
She added that she appreciated the discussion.                                                                                  
SENATOR  HOLLAND asked  if  anybody looked  at  how other  states                                                               
handle the issue of postage paid ballots.                                                                                       
MR. APPLEBEE offered  his belief that it is more  common than not                                                               
to have  postage paid  return envelopes for  by mail  ballots. He                                                               
offered to follow up with specific information.                                                                                 
SENATOR KAWASAKI also expressed interest  in looking at how other                                                               
states address postage paid return envelops for by mail ballots.                                                                
MR. APPLEBEE  said the administration  needs to do  some research                                                               
to see whether other states have found a solution.                                                                              
CHAIR  SHOWER added  that his  office has  asked the  U.S. Postal                                                               
Service about  available options to  date stamp a  prepaid return                                                               
envelope and how  that might tie in to ballot  tracking and chain                                                               
of  custody.  He acknowledged  that  there  could already  be  an                                                               
elegant solution.                                                                                                               
4:28:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE agreed  and continued the sectional  analysis for SB
          Section 17: This section prohibits DOE from                                                                         
     sending absentee  ballots to voters who do  not request                                                                    
     them,  except when  DOE  is conducting  an election  by                                                                    
He said  this provision is  current statute and practice  but the                                                               
amendment  makes  it  abundantly  clear  that  voters  will  only                                                               
receive a ballot on request.                                                                                                    
          Section 18: This section allows voters to request                                                                   
     absentee ballots  for four years, after  which DOE will                                                                    
     send  notification  and  the  voters  can  reapply.  If                                                                    
     absentee  ballots  or other  DOE  mail is  returned  as                                                                    
     undeliverable, DOE will stop sending absentee ballots.                                                                     
MR.   APPLEBEE    said   voters   must   reapply    because   the                                                               
administration  feels  that a  permanent application  would  keep                                                               
people on the voter rolls longer than needed.                                                                                   
          Section 19: This section directs DOE to begin to                                                                    
     review absentee ballot certificates ten days before the                                                                    
     election.  It  also  requires  that  DOE  review  these                                                                    
     certificates   before   it  counts   the   accompanying                                                                    
MR.  APPLEBEE  said the  intention  is  to get  the  applications                                                               
processed faster.                                                                                                               
CHAIR  SHOWER highlighted  that  this  provision comes  partially                                                               
from Colorado best practices.                                                                                                   
SENATOR  KAWASAKI asked  if the  ballots are  separated from  the                                                               
ballot envelope at the regional center.                                                                                         
4:30:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE deferred to Ms. Fenumiai.                                                                                          
MS. FENUMIAI explained that staff  logs by mail ballots when they                                                               
are  received  at  one  of  the five  regional  offices  and  are                                                               
subsequently reviewed  by the  bipartisan Absentee  Review Board.                                                               
The envelopes are not opened  and ballots removed until the board                                                               
has  certified that  each voter  is  eligible to  have cast  that                                                               
MR. APPLEBEE continued the sectional analysis for SB 167.                                                                       
          Section 20: This section requires DOE to match the                                                                  
     signatures   on  absentee   ballot  certificates   with                                                                    
     signatures in voter registration records.                                                                                  
          Section 21: This section adds inconsistent                                                                          
     signatures  as a  reason absentee  ballots will not  be                                                                    
     counted. It  also eliminates the  ability of  voters to                                                                    
     provide utility bills,  government documents, and other                                                                    
     alternate forms of identification.                                                                                         
          Section 22: This section explains how signature                                                                     
     matching will occur. The signature verification process                                                                    
     will include the  use of signature comparison software,                                                                    
     according to regulations adopted by DOE.                                                                                   
          Section 23: This section adds two new sections of                                                                   
     law. The  first creates a free,  online absentee ballot                                                                    
     tracking system. This system  will indicate whether DOE                                                                    
     has reviewed a  certificate and how the  voter can cure                                                                    
     the certificate,  if  necessary. It will  also indicate                                                                    
     whether DOE  has counted a  ballot and,  if applicable,                                                                    
     why it did not count.                                                                                                      
          The   second   allows   voters   to   cure   their                                                                    
     certificates when  their signatures  do not  match. DOE                                                                    
     will  provide  notification  within  48  hours  of  its                                                                    
     determination,  and voters  will then  have to  confirm                                                                    
     that they  mailed a  ballot and  provide identification                                                                    
     and a signature. Voters have 14 days after election day                                                                    
     to cure.  If a  voter does not  confirm that he  or she                                                                    
     voted, or does not respond  to DOE's notice, the matter                                                                    
     will   be  referred   to  the   attorney  general   for                                                                    
MR.   APPLEBEE  acknowledged   that  Section   23  will   require                                                               
additional discussion about  the time and whether  it is possible                                                               
to  create  a cure  process  that  can  apply equally  to  voters                                                               
4:32:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER asked if the direction to implement a forensic                                                                     
signature check is in Section 20. He mentioned what is done in                                                                  
MR. APPLEBEE replied the sections combined give the division the                                                                
ability to do what Anchorage does and to use software.                                                                          
CHAIR SHOWER  asked for confirmation that  this addresses machine                                                               
checking signatures  against the database. The  direction is that                                                               
they "shall" do this.                                                                                                           
MR. APPLEBEE answered  yes, and cited the language  in Section 22                                                               
that talks  about using signature  comparison software.  He added                                                               
that  the   division  is  given   the  authority  to   write  the                                                               
regulations to implement the process.                                                                                           
CHAIR SHOWER acknowledged  that there is an  associated cost, but                                                               
it would allay concerns about by mail ballots.                                                                                  
SENATOR KAWASAKI  described and  expressed satisfaction  with the                                                               
signature verification  process that he witnessed.  He added that                                                               
he did wonder what database the voter signatures come from.                                                                     
CHAIR SHOWER offered  his belief that the  division uses multiple                                                               
databases. He asked Ms. Fenumiai to comment.                                                                                    
4:35:18 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI  asked if  he was referring  to the  Municipality of                                                               
Anchorage process.                                                                                                              
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  clarified  that  he  was  describing  what  he                                                               
witnessed in  Fairbanks during absentee ballot  certification for                                                               
the 2020 election.                                                                                                              
MS.  FENUMIAI  advised that  the  ballots  were verified  against                                                               
signatures the voters  submitted to the Division  of Elections at                                                               
various  times and  on various  documents.  The signatures  could                                                               
have  come  from  paper  copies   of  voter  registration  forms,                                                               
absentee by  mail applications,  or the  signatures on  file with                                                               
the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).                                                                                           
CHAIR SHOWER  added that using  multiple databases  addresses the                                                               
problem that a  voter's signature may change  somewhat over time.                                                               
He highlighted that  voters whose signature is an "X"  or "O" are                                                               
generally accepted prima facie.                                                                                                 
SENATOR KAWASAKI asked if part  of the ballot curing process does                                                               
or  will accommodate  voters  whose  name has  changed  due to  a                                                               
change in marital  status or somebody who is signing  with an "X"                                                               
because they  have a broken  arm or are using  their non-dominant                                                               
MR.  APPLEBEE replied  all those  situations  come to  mind in  a                                                               
discussion  about  how  to  define what  is  included  in  ballot                                                               
CHAIR  SHOWER commented  that  using  the signature  verification                                                               
software highlights  a problem. He  noted that provisions  in his                                                               
bill provide that  a person would then look at  the signature and                                                               
make a determination about whether to contact the voter.                                                                        
4:39:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO  directed attention to  the language on  page 9,                                                               
line 15  and asked: 1) whether  the term "may" should  be changed                                                               
to "shall" and  2) who makes the decision to  count a ballot when                                                               
the voter has failed to properly execute the certificate.                                                                       
MR.  APPLEBEE  deferred  the  question  to  Tom  Flynn  with  the                                                               
Department of Law.                                                                                                              
4:40:14 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. FLYNN explained that as  a matter of statutory construct, the                                                               
term "may  not" is obligatory,  meaning that the ballot  will not                                                               
be counted.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR COSTELLO asked Ms. Fenumiai  to confirm that the division                                                               
interprets it that way because it does not seem very clear.                                                                     
MS. FENUMIAI replied the division  has been following the statute                                                               
as  written,   and  ballots   are  not   counted  based   on  the                                                               
circumstances outlined in AS 15.20.203(b)(1)-(6).                                                                               
CHAIR SHOWER said it is now on the record to show intent.                                                                       
4:41:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE continued the sectional analysis for SB 167.                                                                       
          Section 24: This section requires DOE to adopt                                                                      
     regulations for routine forensic examinations and strict                                                                   
     chain-of-custody protocols for precinct tabulators.                                                                        
He   acknowledged   the   need  to   clearly   define   "forensic                                                               
CHAIR SHOWER  highlighted that the  voting machines for  the 2020                                                               
election  were not  forensically  tested and  that should  change                                                               
going forward.                                                                                                                  
MR. APPLEBEE reviewed Sections 25-28 together.                                                                                  
          Section 25: This section provides that unlawful                                                                     
     interference  with   voting  includes  a  person  knowingly                                                                
     possessing another  voter's ballot, unless the  person is a                                                                
     family  member, caregiver,  election official,  or delivery                                                                
          Section 26: This section provides that unlawful                                                                     
     interference with an election includes tampering with                                                                      
     absentee ballot materials, ballots, and election machinery.                                                                
          Section 27: This section creates the offense of                                                                     
     election fraud, which is committed when a person commits                                                                   
     unlawful interference with an election and causes the                                                                      
     outcome of the election to change.                                                                                         
          Section 28: This section provides that election                                                                     
     official misconduct includes knowingly disclosing, before                                                                  
     the polls close on election day, election returns or                                                                       
     results to someone who is not an election official.                                                                        
          Section 29: This section requires that the official                                                                 
    election pamphlet include the election offense hotline.                                                                     
          Section 30: This section requires that police officers                                                              
     receive more than four hours of training on detecting and                                                                  
     investigating election offenses.                                                                                           
CHAIR SHOWER  highlighted that this provision  came about because                                                               
he referred  questions and  concerns about  the 2020  election to                                                               
law enforcement  for investigation and  was told that was  not in                                                               
their purview.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR COSTELLO  referenced the  new language  in Section  30 on                                                               
page 18, lines  6-7. She pointed out that the  number of hours of                                                               
instruction is  less important than  the fact that the  person is                                                               
able  to   "demonstrate  an   understanding  of"   detecting  and                                                               
investigating election offenses. She offered  to work with him on                                                               
the language.                                                                                                                   
MR. APPLEBEE said it is a good suggestion.                                                                                      
CHAIR  SHOWER  voiced support  for  law  enforcement getting  the                                                               
training that is needed.                                                                                                        
4:46:15 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI  referenced the  new language  in Section  25 on                                                               
page 14  relating to who can  possess a ballot. He  asked if this                                                               
provision  would   prevent  the  League  of   Women  Voters  from                                                               
organizing to  pick up ballots  at Pioneer Homes, which  they did                                                               
in the 2020 election and many elections prior to that.                                                                          
MR. APPLEBEE offered his belief  that this language would prevent                                                               
that activity.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR  SHOWER said  the  intent  in his  bill  last  year was  to                                                               
prevent professional  ballot harvesters.  He said he  was willing                                                               
to  work with  Senator Kawasaki  and the  administration to  find                                                               
language that would  not prevent family members  from helping one                                                               
another or people in good faith who wanted to help.                                                                             
4:49:00 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE  said the  administration would  be willing  to work                                                               
with  him and  Senator Kawasaki's  office on  acceptable language                                                               
that achieves the intent.                                                                                                       
MR. APPLEBEE continued the sectional analysis for SB 167.                                                                       
          Section 31: This section relates to PFD voter                                                                       
     registration. It requires that the PFD application form                                                                    
     include a way for applicants to request voter registration.                                                                
          Section 32: This section requires the Department of                                                                 
     Revenue to send DOE the records of those applicants                                                                        
     potentially eligible to register who requested voter                                                                       
     registration as described in section 31.                                                                                   
He noted that  he addressed Sections 31 and 32  when he discussed                                                               
Section 5.                                                                                                                      
          Section 33: This section repeals the statute that                                                                   
     allows  voters  to   provide  utility  bills,  government                                                                  
     documents, and  other alternate forms  of identification.                                                                  
     It  also repeals the  statutes that  create  the existing                                                                  
     free  access system  for absentee  ballots,  because this                                                                  
     system is replaced by the ballot tracking system added in                                                                  
     section 23.                                                                                                                
4:50:33 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOLLAND recalled  that he saw somewhere  that hunting and                                                               
fishing licenses are accepted as valid forms of ID.                                                                             
CHAIR SHOWER  said it  is in  current statute  and his  bill last                                                               
year  attempted to  delete  that because  people  are not  always                                                               
required  to show  their  identification when  they  apply for  a                                                               
hunting  and  fishing  license   and  there  is  no  verification                                                               
SENATOR HOLLAND  said he did  not recall where  he saw it  but it                                                               
was today.                                                                                                                      
MR.  APPLEBEE said  the provision  was inserted  to initiate  the                                                               
conversation about what will work for voters in Alaska.                                                                         
CHAIR SHOWER said  the intention is to move Alaska  into the 21st                                                               
SENATOR  COSTELLO directed  attention to  page 19,  line 12,  and                                                               
asked  Mr.  Flynn if  the  term  "may"  should be  replaced  with                                                               
"shall" to ensure  that the regulations have  been promulgated by                                                               
the April effective date.                                                                                                       
MR.  FLYNN  offered  his understanding  that  the  section  about                                                               
transition regulations  is standard  language for bills.  He also                                                               
confirmed that  the term  "may" is  more appropriate  because not                                                               
everything  needs regulations.  He added  that he  would give  it                                                               
more thought.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR COSTELLO asked  Ms. Fenumiai if it is  realistic to think                                                               
that the division  will be able to  promulgate regulations before                                                               
the Act takes  effect in April 2022 or if  the division will need                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI  offered her belief  that the regulations  that need                                                               
to be promulgated  should this legislation pass would  need to be                                                               
done  in   the  emergency  regulation  process.   They  would  be                                                               
effective immediately  and public comment would  come afterwards.                                                               
If the regulations are not  made permanent after a certain number                                                               
of days, they expire.                                                                                                           
SENATOR COSTELLO  asked if  the language  is sufficient  to allow                                                               
the emergency regulation process.                                                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI deferred the question to Mr. Flynn.                                                                                
MR. FLYNN  answered that the authority  for emergency regulations                                                               
comes  from the  Administrative  Procedures Act  and he  believes                                                               
that authority would extend to this situation.                                                                                  
MR. APPLEBEE  mentioned the "may"  versus "shall"  discussion and                                                               
highlighted  that there  are sections  that  clearly require  the                                                               
division to write regulations.                                                                                                  
CHAIR  SHOWER  asked  if  he  had  concluding   comments  on  the                                                               
sectional analysis.                                                                                                             
MR. APPLEBEE  said the  remainder of the  bill contains  standard                                                               
language  relating to effective  dates and  election crimes  that                                                               
only apply to the offenses committed after the effective date.                                                                  
Sections 34-38 read as follows:                                                                                                 
          Section   34:    This   section   provides   for    the                                                             
     applicability of the amendments to the election offenses in                                                                
     sections 25 - 28.                                                                                                          
          Section 35: This section authorizes DOE to adopt                                                                    
     transition regulations.                                                                                                    
          Section 36 - 38: These sections provide that the                                                                    
     signature matching sections (20 - 22), the ballot tracking                                                                 
     and cure section (23), and the precinct tabulator                                                                          
     regulation section                                                                                                         
          (24) take effect on July 1, 2022. The transition                                                                      
     regulations section (35) takes effect immediately and the                                                                  
     rest of the bill takes effect on April 1, 2022.                                                                            
CHAIR SHOWER asked for a short analysis of the fiscal note.                                                                     
4:56:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. APPLEBEE stated that the major  expense in SB 167 will be the                                                               
approximate  $5  million  one-time   cost  to  provide  signature                                                               
verification machines  in all regional  offices. There  will also                                                               
be continuing costs in the out years.                                                                                           
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  asked for  assurance  that  the division  will                                                               
receive the  revenue it needs  for the  toll free 800  number and                                                               
the staff necessary to answer the questions that come in.                                                                       
MR.  APPLEBEE  said yes  and  the  fiscal  note will  be  revised                                                               
accordingly  as language  from the  Chair's bill  is incorporated                                                               
into SB 167.                                                                                                                    
4:57:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER held SB 167 in committee.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 167.PDF SSTA 1/27/2022 3:30:00 PM
SB 167
HJR 16.PDF SSTA 1/27/2022 3:30:00 PM
HJR 16
SB0167A.PDF SSTA 1/27/2022 3:30:00 PM
SB 167
HB 286 - SB 167 Sectional Analysis - Final.pdf SSTA 1/27/2022 3:30:00 PM
HB 286
SB 167
SB167 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 1/27/2022 3:30:00 PM
SB 167
SB 167 List of testifiers.docx SSTA 1/27/2022 3:30:00 PM
SB 167