Legislature(2019 - 2020)Anch LIO Lg Conf Rm

10/16/2020 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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01:06:52 PM Start
01:08:33 PM Presentation(s): Alaska's Election Procedures and Practices
02:36:17 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Joint with Senate JUD
Presentation: Alaska's Election Procedures &
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                        
                        October 16, 2020                                                                                        
                           1:06 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
 Representative Matt Claman, Chair                                                                                              
 Representative Chuck Kopp (via teleconference)                                                                                 
 Representative Harriet Drummond (via teleconference)                                                                           
 Representative Louise Stutes (via teleconference)                                                                              
 Representative Gabrielle LeDoux (via teleconference)                                                                           
 Representative Sarah Vance (via teleconference)                                                                                
SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
 Senator John Coghill, Chair (via teleconference)                                                                               
 Senator Peter Micciche, Vice Chair                                                                                             
 Senator Shelley Hughes (via teleconference)                                                                                    
 Senator Jesse Kiehl (via teleconference)                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
 Representative Laddie Shaw                                                                                                     
SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
 Senator Lora Reinbold                                                                                                          
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
HOUSE MEMBERS                                                                                                                   
 Representative Bryce Edgmon (via teleconference)                                                                               
 Representative Ivy Spohnholz (via teleconference)                                                                              
 Representative Sara Hannan (via teleconference)                                                                                
SENATE MEMBERS                                                                                                                  
 Senator Tom Begich (via teleconference)                                                                                        
 Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson (via teleconference)                                                                                 
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION(S):  Alaska's Election Procedures and Practices                                                                    
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
GAIL FENUMIAI, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Elections                                                                                                           
Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered prepared questions and presented                                                                
information related to Alaska's election procedures and                                                                         
CORI MILLS, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                          
Civil Division                                                                                                                  
Labor and State Affairs Section                                                                                                 
Department of Law                                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions related to Alaska                                                                 
SENATOR ELVI GRAY-JACKSON                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Asked questions during the presentation on                                                               
election procedures and practices in Alaska.                                                                                    
SENATOR TOM BEGICH                                                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Asked questions during the presentation on                                                               
election procedures and practices in Alaska.                                                                                    
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:06:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MATT CLAMAN  called the  joint  meeting of  the House  and                                                             
Senate  Judiciary  Standing  Committees  to order  at  1:05  p.m.                                                               
Present at  the call  to order  were Representatives  LeDoux (via                                                               
teleconference),  Drummond   (via  teleconference),   Vance  (via                                                               
teleconference),   Stutes   (via   teleconference),   Kopp   (via                                                               
teleconference),  and  Chair  Claman; and  Senators  Hughes  (via                                                               
teleconference), Kiehl (via  teleconference), Micciche, and Chair                                                               
Coghill (via teleconference).                                                                                                   
^PRESENTATION(S):  Alaska's Election Procedures and Practices                                                                   
  PRESENTATION(S):  Alaska's Election Procedures and Practices                                                              
1:08:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
a presentation on Alaska's election  procedures and practices. He                                                               
opened invited testimony and explained  that the presenters would                                                               
first  respond to  the list  of questions  he prepared  regarding                                                               
election procedures  and practices. He  noted that copies  of the                                                               
questions were also distributed to the members.                                                                                 
1:10:04 PM                                                                                                                    
GAIL  FENUMIAI, Director,  Division of  Elections, Office  of the                                                               
Lieutenant Governor,  stated that she would  answer the questions                                                               
that Chair Claman  provided, but she would start  with a snapshot                                                               
of  the division  and its  work to  provide some  context to  her                                                               
She said the 28 fulltime staff  at the Division of Elections have                                                               
been working  tirelessly to conduct  an election that is  as safe                                                               
and efficient  as possible during  a pandemic and given  a record                                                               
number of  absentee by-mail ballots.  She said the  division also                                                               
must  be prepared  to have  voting  in all  441 precincts,  which                                                               
entails recruiting  over 2,500  election workers,  testing voting                                                               
equipment, preparing supplies,  processing absentee applications,                                                               
mailing  ballots,  logging  ballots,  working  with  the  various                                                               
boards, troubleshooting, and reviewing and counting ballots.                                                                    
1:11:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI read question 1:                                                                                                   
       1.  What are the procedures for counting absentee                                                                        
           ballots and early voting ballots?                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI  explained that absentee ballots,  which include by-                                                               
mail ballots,  ballots sent by  FAX or online  delivery, absentee                                                               
in-person  ballots, and  special-needs  ballots,  are logged  and                                                               
batched when  they are  received. Division  staff then  assign an                                                               
initial  accept  or reject  code  to  each  ballot based  on  the                                                               
registered  voter's information.  The bipartisan  absentee review                                                               
board,  which is  authorized by  AS  15.20.190-205, convenes  not                                                               
less than seven  days before the election to  review all absentee                                                               
ballots and determine whether the  absentee voter is qualified to                                                               
vote in  the election  and whether the  ballot has  been properly                                                               
She advised  that an absentee  ballot may  not be counted  if the                                                               
voter  failed   to  sign  and   provide  an  identifier   on  the                                                               
certificate; if  it's postmarked  after Election  Day; if  it was                                                               
delivered after the  election by a means other than  mail; and if                                                               
it  was  not  received  by  the  statutory  deadline  set  in  AS                                                               
15.20.203.  For the  general  election, that  would  be ten  days                                                               
following  the election  if postmarked  within the  United States                                                               
and 15 days after if postmarked outside the United States.                                                                      
MS. FENUMIAI stated that the  absentee review board must complete                                                               
its  duties by  the 16th  day after  the election.  She explained                                                               
that ballots that go through  the review process are counted once                                                               
duplicate  voter research  is completed.  The division  must have                                                               
all 441 precinct  registers in hand and processed  to compare and                                                               
reject absentee  ballots from  voters who  also voted  in person.                                                               
She posited that  duplicate voting is likely to  increase with an                                                               
increase  in absentee  voting. The  absentee review  and counting                                                               
process doesn't  start for seven  days to accommodate  more rural                                                               
locations  where  it takes  longer  to  get the  registers  back.                                                               
Counting will  continue through  November 18,  which is  the last                                                               
day to  receive ballots by  mail if they were  postmarked outside                                                               
of the United States.                                                                                                           
She  said early  voted  ballots do  not  require any  post-voting                                                               
review, because  voter eligibility is  determined at the  time of                                                               
voting. The voter  signs an early voting  certificate that states                                                               
the  information  appearing  on   the  certificate  is  true  and                                                               
correct. Early ballots that are  cast through the Thursday before                                                               
Election  Day will  be  counted on  election  night. Early  voted                                                               
ballots cast  Friday through  Election Day  will be  counted with                                                               
other  absentee   ballots  on  the  seventh   day  following  the                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI read question 1a: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                 
     1.a.  If a voter requests an absentee ballot, but then                                                                     
           votes in-person instead, is the in-person ballot                                                                     
           always considered a "questioned" ballot?                                                                             
MS. FENUMIAI  answered no. A  questioned ballot is voted  for the                                                               
following  reasons:  a  person's  name does  not  appear  on  the                                                               
precinct register,  the information  in the precinct  register is                                                               
not  correct  and   the  voter  wants  to   correct  it,  someone                                                               
challenges the eligibility  of a voter, or if it  is noted on the                                                               
precinct register  that the  person has  already voted.  During a                                                               
primary  election, a  voter has  to vote  a questioned  ballot if                                                               
they request a  ballot for which they are not  qualified to vote,                                                               
based on party bylaws.                                                                                                          
MS. FENUMIAI read question 1b: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                 
     1.b.  How many people requested absentee ballots, but                                                                      
            then voted in-person in November 2018?                                                                              
MS FENUMIAI  answered that  the division does  not have  a report                                                               
that can produce this information.                                                                                              
MS. FENUMIAI read question 1c: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                 
      1.c.  Can a voter vote early in-person at a regional                                                                      
            election  office  (even  if is  not  [in  their]                                                                    
            region)? If so, are those ballots counted at the                                                                    
            same time as other early  voting ballots or with                                                                    
            the absentee ballots?                                                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI explained that a person  can vote early in person at                                                               
any  regional  election  office.   The  ballot  will  be  counted                                                               
according to when the vote was cast.                                                                                            
1:16:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN asked what day of  the month the Thursday before the                                                               
election falls on this year.                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI replied Election Day  is October 29, 2020. She added                                                               
that the ballots cast at  the early voting locations from October                                                               
19  through October  29 will  be counted  on Election  Day. Early                                                               
voted  ballots cast  on October  30  through November  3 will  be                                                               
counted seven days following the election.                                                                                      
1:17:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI paraphrased question 2a that read as follows:                                                                      
     2.a.  How many drop boxes for absentee ballots are set                                                                     
           up in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and the                                                                          
MS. FENUMIAI said there are 10  drop boxes in those locations and                                                               
one at the Kenai Peninsula Borough office.                                                                                      
MS. FENUMIAI paraphrased question 2b that read as follows:                                                                      
        2.b.  Which communities have drop boxes in rural                                                                        
She answered  that there are no  drop boxes in rural  Alaska, and                                                               
continued to the third section of questions.                                                                                    
1:18:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN  asked her to  respond to  questions 2c and  2d that                                                               
read as follows: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                               
      2.c.  Will there be opportunities to add additional                                                                       
            drop boxes before November 3, 2020?                                                                                 
     2.d.  Has the Division partnered with local government                                                                     
            for drop boxes and locations (municipalities,                                                                       
            boroughs, and cities)?                                                                                              
1:18:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI  said the  logistics of  shipping secure  drop boxes                                                               
around the  state is not  feasible due  to the many  other duties                                                               
the division  is currently overseeing. Regarding  partnering with                                                               
local governments, she restated  that the Kenai Peninsula Borough                                                               
has a  drop box and is  monitoring it for the  division. The drop                                                               
box in the  MatSu Borough is shared with the  borough whose local                                                               
election is also on November 3.                                                                                                 
MS. FENUMIAI  turned to the  next section of  questions regarding                                                               
the  schedule for  counting absentee  and  early voting  ballots.                                                               
Question 3a read as follows:                                                                                                    
     3.a.  Are early in-person ballots counted on election                                                                      
           day? [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                
MS.  FENUMIAI  explained  that   early  voted  ballots  cast                                                                    
through October 29th will be  counted on Election Day. Early                                                                    
voted ballots  cast after October 29  and absentee in-person                                                                    
ballots will be counted seven days after the election.                                                                          
MS. FENUMIAI read question 3c:                                                                                                  
     3.c. Is there a recommendation for when a voter should                                                                     
          put an absentee ballot in the mail?                                                                                   
She said  the division  encourages voters  to return  their voted                                                               
ballots as soon as possible.                                                                                                    
1:20:45 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI read  question  4 regarding  the  history of  voter                                                               
fraud  in Alaska  and asked  to defer  it to  Ms. Mills  with the                                                               
Department of Law.                                                                                                              
CHAIR CLAMAN replied that is acceptable.                                                                                        
MS. FENUMIAI read question 5: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                  
     5.  What steps is the Division taking to prevent voter                                                                     
         fraud in 2020?                                                                                                         
MS.  FENUMIAI said  fraud prevention  starts at  the registration                                                               
level  when  a person's  identity  is  verified before  they  are                                                               
registered.  Verification can  occur when  a person  registers in                                                               
front  of a  registrar, at  a  Division of  Motor Vehicles  (DMV)                                                               
office, or via the division's  online voting system. Verification                                                               
is  done as  required by  Help America  Vote Verification  (HAVV)                                                               
through the Social Security  Administration. Verification is also                                                               
done when  a voter  applies for an  absentee ballot  and provides                                                               
their date of  birth and another identifier.  This information is                                                               
then  checked   against  what  appears   in  the   state's  voter                                                               
registration system  to ensure  that the  voter is  authentic and                                                               
eligible to  receive a ballot. When  a person goes to  vote, they                                                               
provide  identification to  the election  worker or  the election                                                               
worker can note that they know  the person. If the voter does not                                                               
present  identification  and  is  not  personally  known  by  the                                                               
election worker,  the voter  must vote  a questioned  ballot. The                                                               
process for reviewing  a questioned ballot is the same  as for an                                                               
absentee ballot.                                                                                                                
MS.  FENUMIAI  read questions  6  and  6a: [Original  punctuation                                                               
     6.  What steps is the Division taking to increase the                                                                      
         availability of early in-person voting?                                                                                
             a.  What is the number of early voting                                                                             
                   locations state-wide?                                                                                        
MS.  FENUMIAI  stated that  there  are  eight true  early  voting                                                               
locations: two in  Juneau, two in Anchorage, one  in Wasilla, one                                                               
in Palmer for Districts 7-12, one  in Fairbanks, and one in Nome.                                                               
The University of  Alaska Anchorage and the  University of Alaska                                                               
Fairbanks will also have early  voting locations open on November                                                               
2 and 3.                                                                                                                        
MS. FENUMIAI read question 6b: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                 
       6.b.  What is the relationship if any, between the                                                                       
            number and location of early voting locations in                                                                    
            Alaska and settlement of the earlier lawsuit                                                                        
            about voting options in rural Alaska?                                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI  advised that all  other early voting  locations are                                                               
conducted as absentee in-person voting.                                                                                         
1:24:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  CLAMAN asked  what  the difference  is  between early  in-                                                               
person voting and absentee in-person voting.                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI  explained that early  voting typically  takes place                                                               
in a  regional elections office.  However, the division  may also                                                               
designate other  locations where elections officials  have access                                                               
to the statewide voter registration  system and are able to print                                                               
early voting  certificates that  voters sign  to verify  that the                                                               
information on  the certificate is  accurate. The voter  can then                                                               
vote a ballot and no further review of that ballot is needed.                                                                   
MS. FENUMIAI continued to explain  that absentee in-person voting                                                               
is usually  conducted in single-site districts  where ballots for                                                               
just  one district  are  available  and just  one  or two  voting                                                               
officials are  onsite. The  voter must  complete an  absentee in-                                                               
person oath  and affidavit envelope.  The voter votes  the ballot                                                               
for the district,  it is sealed in the envelope,  and the ballots                                                               
are  returned to  the division.  Once the  division receives  the                                                               
ballots, they  are batched and  logged and later reviewed  by the                                                               
absentee voter review board to  determine the voters' eligibility                                                               
to cast that ballot.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  CLAMAN asked  her to  respond  to the  question about  the                                                               
1:27:01 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI answered  that there was a significant  push in 2014                                                               
to  increase the  number of  absentee in-person  voting locations                                                               
statewide.  Since   then,  the   division  has  reached   out  to                                                               
communities each year  to solicit continuing and  new interest in                                                               
having an  absentee in-person voting  location in  the community.                                                               
She noted  that a new  location was added  this year at  the Cook                                                               
Inlet Tribal  Corporation building.  It will  be an  absentee in-                                                               
person  location  that  will  have   ballots  for  all  40  House                                                               
1:28:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN  asked her  to speak to  the Native  American Rights                                                               
Fund  lawsuit  regarding the  number  of  towns, particularly  in                                                               
rural Alaska,  that have absentee in-person  voting locations. He                                                               
specifically asked  how many locations  were added and  about the                                                               
efforts to maintain those locations.                                                                                            
1:28:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI  said  she  would  defer to  Cori  Mills  with  the                                                               
Department of Law  because she didn't recall  that the settlement                                                               
required  a specific  number  of locations.  She  added that  she                                                               
would do some research and follow up with her findings.                                                                         
CHAIR CLAMAN  asked how many absentee  in-person voting locations                                                               
are outside of Anchorage.                                                                                                       
1:29:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENIUMIAI  estimated that  there are about  140 and  said she                                                               
would follow up with the exact number.                                                                                          
1:29:41 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI read question 7: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                  
     7.  How long has Alaska counted absentee ballots after                                                                     
          election day and what is the reason to count ballots                                                                  
          after election day?                                                                                                   
MS.  FENUMIAI  said  the  process began  with  the  2008  general                                                               
election and continued through the  2014 general election. It was                                                               
reimplemented with  the 2020 primary  election to ensure  that no                                                               
voter has more  than one ballot counted in an  election. Once the                                                               
division   receives   and   processes  the   in-person   precinct                                                               
registers, they  will run  duplicate voter  reports and  pull any                                                               
absentee or question ballots of  voters who might also have voted                                                               
at the polls on Election Day.                                                                                                   
1:30:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN offered  his understanding that Alaska  has long had                                                               
the statutory  requirement to continue to  count absentee ballots                                                               
post-election as they  arrive in the mail. He asked  if there was                                                               
a statutory change in 2008 and  if that was the practice for many                                                               
years prior to 2008.                                                                                                            
MS. FENUMIAI replied  there is no statutory  requirement for when                                                               
the division can  start counting ballots, when  the review boards                                                               
begin, or how long the ballots must be received.                                                                                
CHAIR CLAMAN said he included  the question because discussion on                                                               
the national  level has  suggested that  states should  not count                                                               
any  ballots  that arrive  after  Election  Day. He  offered  his                                                               
understanding that  Alaska has long  counted ballots  that arrive                                                               
after the  election as  long as they  are postmarked  by Election                                                               
MS.  FENUMIAI  replied  state  law provides  that  ballots  in  a                                                               
general  election  that  are  postmarked   by  Election  Day  and                                                               
determined  eligible  can  be  counted up  until  10  days  after                                                               
November 3  and 15  days after if  postmarked outside  the United                                                               
1:32:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN asked if she knew when the law took effect.                                                                        
MS. FENUMIAI  replied she would  have to do some  research before                                                               
1:32:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI turned to question 8 that read as follows:                                                                         
       8.  Why did the community of Mertarvik not receive                                                                       
          primary ballots?                                                                                                      
MS.  FENUMIAI suggested  that members  refer to  the October  12,                                                               
2020 letter  that she  sent to Senator  Olson and  distributed to                                                               
all  members of  the legislature.  In  summary, it  said that  on                                                               
August  7, 2020  the division  sent a  letter to  every voter  in                                                               
Newtok with  information about absentee voting  and informed them                                                               
that the  division had  no [election] workers  and that  they did                                                               
not  know  about  the  relocation  until  two  weeks  before  the                                                               
MS.  FENUMIAI said  the  Region IV  Elections  Office received  a                                                               
verbal  report  the day  before  the  election that  a  community                                                               
member was  willing to travel  between [Newtok and  Mertarvik] to                                                               
give people an  opportunity to vote absentee in  person. That did                                                               
not  happen, but  the division  didn't learn  that until  the day                                                               
after the election.  Ballots were only available  in the precinct                                                               
the division was aware of, which was the community of Newtok.                                                                   
1:34:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI read question 8a: [Original punctuation                                                                            
       8.a.  How is the Division addressing this issue in                                                                       
             Mertarvik for the general election?                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI said  an absentee voting official  in Mertarvik will                                                               
start working on Tuesday, November 20   at the Pioneer School and                                                               
there  will be  a precinct  for  Election Day  voting in  Newtok.                                                               
Right now,  there are  two election workers  and the  division is                                                               
looking for more.                                                                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI read question 8b: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                 
     8.b.  If there is potential for this issue to arise in                                                                     
           other communities for the general election, how                                                                      
           is the Division addressing this potential issue?                                                                     
MS.  FENUMIAI said  election worker  recruitment has  always been                                                               
problematic.  Today, the  division has  an adequate  workforce in                                                               
most  areas but  is still  working to  secure workers  in Clark's                                                               
Point,  Sleetmute,  Deering,  and  Wainwright.  Voters  in  these                                                               
communities  were informed  this  week of  their voting  options,                                                               
sent  an absentee  by-mail application,  and asked  to become  an                                                               
election  worker. She  said the  division is  continuing to  work                                                               
with the cities, tribes, and  Native corporations to find workers                                                               
in those communities.                                                                                                           
1:35:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI  deferred  question  9   to  Cori  Mills  with  the                                                               
Department of  Law, and read  question 10:  [Original punctuation                                                               
       10.  How is the Division planning to spend federal                                                                       
           pandemic relief funds specific to the general                                                                        
MS. FENUMIAI  recounted that the  division has:  hired additional                                                               
personnel in  the regional offices  to help procure and  mail PPE                                                               
(personal protective  equipment); hired  additional staff  in the                                                               
absentee  office  to  process  the   record  number  of  absentee                                                               
applications  and  send ballots  to  voters  who timely  applied;                                                               
procured  additional  office  space   to  allow  adequate  social                                                               
distancing of  staff and boards;  and increased  ballots, by-mail                                                               
ballot materials, and PPE of various sorts for the precincts.                                                                   
1:37:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI read question 10a:                                                                                                 
     10.a.  Is there an option to have pre-paid postage for                                                                     
             ballot return envelopes?                                                                                           
MS. FENUMIAI  answered no;  the envelopes  for the  2020 election                                                               
have already been printed. Because  they are a specialty envelope                                                               
that  is  not easily  reprinted,  it  would  not be  possible  to                                                               
reprint  them  with pre-paid  postage  just  17 days  before  the                                                               
general election.                                                                                                               
1:37:42 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI turned to the  next section regarding communications                                                               
with  the public  and read  question  11a: [Original  punctuation                                                               
     11.a.  Has the Division hired additional staff to do voter                                                                 
MS. FENUMIAI replied the division  hired a communications manager                                                               
during the  summer to help  get messages  out to the  public. She                                                               
said that has been successful.                                                                                                  
1:38:01 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI read question 11b: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                
       11.b.  What steps is the Division taking to ensure                                                                       
             transparency and knowledge about changes in                                                                        
             election administration and oversight?                                                                             
MS.  FENUMIAI  recounted  that the  division  keeps  its  website                                                               
updated,   extensively   uses   social   media,   and   regularly                                                               
communicates  with  the  press  through  a  special  press  email                                                               
1:38:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI read  questions 12  and 12a:  [Original punctuation                                                               
     12.  How is the Division communicating information to                                                                      
          let voters know that:                                                                                                 
             a.  The USPS will deliver their ballot to the                                                                      
                 Division of Elections, even if it has                                                                          
                 insufficient postage.                                                                                          
MS. FENUMIAI  said the  division has  heard that  it may  be USPS                                                               
policy to deliver  ballots that have insufficient  postage but it                                                               
is up  to that agency  to notify voters  if this really  is their                                                               
1:39:18 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI read question 12b: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                
     12.b.  Witness signatures are no longer required.                                                                          
              square4   How many absentee ballots did the                                                                       
                      Division reject for lacking the                                                                           
                      witness signature in the primary                                                                          
MS.  FENUMIAI advised  that the  division  rejected 458  absentee                                                               
primary election  ballots for  witnessing in  the first  round of                                                               
review. She added that it is  not clear how many of these ballots                                                               
may have been rejected for other reasons.                                                                                       
1:39:46 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI read question 13: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                 
         13.  During the primary election what COVID-19                                                                         
             protection measures did the  Division implement                                                                    
             (masks,           social            distancing,                                                                    
             handwashing/sanitizer,   etc.)    to    protect                                                                    
             election workers, volunteers, and  observers as                                                                    
             they  monitored   poll  stations   and  counted                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI said  the division provided a  significant supply of                                                               
PPE, including  masks, face shields, gloves,  hand sanitizer, and                                                               
disinfectant   cleaning  supplies.   Furthermore,  the   division                                                               
enforced social  distancing, provided  signs in  polling stations                                                               
encouraging  votes  to  wear masks,  and  required  all  election                                                               
workers and staff to wear masks.                                                                                                
1:40:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI read question 13a: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                
      13.a.  Will the Division employ the same procedures                                                                       
             for the 2020 general election?                                                                                     
MS. FENUMIAI answered,  "Yes we will." and  continued to question                                                               
13b: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                           
         13.b.  Will the Division employ any additional                                                                         
               procedures for the 2020 general election?                                                                        
MS.  FENUMIAI advised  that  the division  is  following the  CDC                                                               
recommendations, just as  it did for the  primary election. Masks                                                               
are available for voters and they are encouraged to use them.                                                                   
1:40:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI  read  statement 14  and  question  14a:  [Original                                                               
punctuation provided.]                                                                                                          
      14.  The Division has historically allowed observers                                                                      
           to watch the counting of absentee ballots.                                                                           
              a.  Why didn't the Division allow for in-                                                                         
                   person or virtual ballot count observers                                                                     
                   following the primary election?                                                                              
MS.  FENUMIAI  said  observers   were  present  for  the  primary                                                               
election in  the Region II  and Region III offices.  The division                                                               
did not ban observers in other  locations, but made it clear that                                                               
due  to COVID-19  it  was  not possible  to  have  the volume  of                                                               
observes as in past elections.                                                                                                  
1:41:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI read question 14b: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                
      14.b.  Will the Division allow in-person or virtual                                                                       
             ballot count observers following the general                                                                       
             election? If not, why?                                                                                             
MS. FENUMIAI  explained that the division  notified the different                                                               
parties  and ballot  measure groups  of the  estimated number  of                                                               
observers who could  watch the review at any one  time in each of                                                               
the regional  offices. The  division is  working with  each party                                                               
and  group  to  try  to   accommodate  their  numbers.  She  said                                                               
[absentee ballot]  vote reviewing  will not be  available because                                                               
the  absentee ballot  envelopes  contain personally  identifiable                                                               
information  and voter  secrecy and  privacy must  be maintained.                                                               
Nor is there  space onsite for a separate viewing  room where the                                                               
division  could  track who  is  observing.  She said  the  review                                                               
cannot be held  in just any location because the  ballots must be                                                               
secured and transporting batches of  ballots from one location to                                                               
another is problematic.                                                                                                         
1:43:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  CLAMAN asked  the members  if they  had questions  for Ms.                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP referenced  question 8,  and commented  that                                                               
"It is striking"  that it wasn't common  knowledge throughout the                                                               
division  that   the  community  of  Newtok   was  relocating  to                                                               
Mertarvik since the  process started in 2017. He  pointed out the                                                               
significant number  of articles, particularly in  2019, that have                                                               
documented the  process. He  asked how  the division  can prevent                                                               
such  an  information  breakdown  from occurring  in  the  future                                                               
because  it speaks  directly to  the perception  in rural  Alaska                                                               
that they don't matter.                                                                                                         
1:45:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI  restated  that  the  division  did  not  have  any                                                               
knowledge of the matter until  two weeks before the election. She                                                               
said nobody  in Newtok brought  the relocation to  the division's                                                               
attention, even  during recruitment. She added  that the division                                                               
can  certainly do  better and  will  check with  the Division  of                                                               
Community  and Regional  Affairs and  reach out  to the  regional                                                               
Native corporations  asking to  be kept abreast  of this  type of                                                               
situation in the future.                                                                                                        
1:46:53 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  CLAMAN noted  that Senator  Gray-Jackson, Senator  Begich,                                                               
Representative Edgmon, and  Representative Spohnholz were present                                                               
via teleconference.                                                                                                             
1:47:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL  referenced question 1,  and asked if  staffing was                                                               
sufficient to handle the volume of absentee ballots.                                                                            
MS.  FENUMIAI replied  the division  added  15 new  staff in  the                                                               
absentee  office   to  ensure   timely  processing   of  absentee                                                               
applications  and  enlisted the  services  of  a vendor  to  help                                                               
process  the increased  mailings. She  said the  regional offices                                                               
also  have increased  the size  of  their review  boards so  more                                                               
ballots can be reviewed at  one time. Thus, meeting the statutory                                                               
deadline to process all ballots should not be a problem.                                                                        
1:49:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL asked  if there were any glitches with  the new in-                                                               
person voting machines.                                                                                                         
MS. FENUMIAI  replied the equipment  was used for the  first time                                                               
in  the  primary  election  and  it  worked  very  well.  Several                                                               
recounts  were  conducted and  the  results  exactly matched  the                                                               
Election Day numbers.                                                                                                           
CHAIR CLAMEN noted  that Senator Hughes joined  the committee via                                                               
teleconference    soon   after    the   meeting    convened   and                                                               
Representative Hannan was also listening.                                                                                       
1:51:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE asked  if the division initiated  extra steps to                                                               
ensure  [absentee] ballot  integrity when  the requirement  for a                                                               
witness signature was dropped.                                                                                                  
MS. FENUMIAI  replied the division  still requires each  voter to                                                               
provide a signature and unique  identifier on the voter envelope.                                                               
There  is also  a validation  process in  the absentee  office to                                                               
ensure that the voter is a  valid voter and eligible to receive a                                                               
1:52:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN  asked if  there are procedures  for a  candidate to                                                               
challenge  a  voter, suggesting  they  no  longer reside  in  the                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI replied any ballot  can be challenged for any reason                                                               
during the review process.                                                                                                      
1:52:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE asked  for  a description  of the  personal                                                               
identifiers  on  the   ballot  envelope  and  if   there  is  any                                                               
indication of party affiliation.                                                                                                
1:53:04 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. FENUMIAI  replied the  voter provides  their signature  and a                                                               
personal identifier  such as  voter number,  date of  birth, last                                                               
four digits of their Social  Security number, or driver's license                                                               
number on the ballot envelope that  has a sealed security flap to                                                               
conceal that information.  She said she didn't  recall whether or                                                               
not party affiliation is included on the envelope.                                                                              
1:53:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  asked what responsibility the  voter has to                                                               
notify   the  division   of  a   change  of   address  and   what                                                               
responsibility the division has to track that information.                                                                      
MS. FENUMIAI replied  it is solely the  voter's responsibility to                                                               
notify the Division  of Elections about a change  of residence or                                                               
mailing address.  The division  has no  authority to  research or                                                               
investigate the accuracy of voter addresses.                                                                                    
1:54:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX said  her question  is a  follow-up to  an                                                               
earlier response  that a  vote may be  challenged for  any reason                                                               
during the absentee  review process. She asked if  a ballot [cast                                                               
at a precinct  on Election Day] can be challenged  on a residency                                                               
MS. FENUMIAI answered that someone who  is in the precinct at the                                                               
time  the  ballot  is  cast  may  challenge  a  ballot  based  on                                                               
1:56:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL  asked for a  brief description of the  security of                                                               
drop boxes, how often the division  empties them, and if they are                                                               
secure against vandalism.                                                                                                       
MS. FENUMIAI  replied the drop  boxes are relatively  secure from                                                               
being casually moved  because they are extremely  heavy. Each box                                                               
is  locked  with  a  security lock  and  has  a  fire-suppressant                                                               
inside. The  boxes are checked  every morning and evening  by two                                                               
people who log  the time of pickup, the number  of ballots picked                                                               
up, what the  security seal is on arrival, and  what new security                                                               
seal is placed on the box before departure.                                                                                     
1:57:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL referred to question  10, and asked for more detail                                                               
on how  much of  the federal pandemic  relief money  the division                                                               
has spent,  how much is  obligated, and  the plans to  spend what                                                               
money remains.                                                                                                                  
1:58:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI  said  she  would   have  to  follow  up  with  the                                                               
1:58:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN  asked her to  send the  follow-up data to  both his                                                               
and  Senator  Coghill's offices  and  they  would distribute  the                                                               
information to the committees.                                                                                                  
MS. FENUMIAI agreed to do so.                                                                                                   
1:58:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL  referenced question  14 and the  earlier statement                                                               
that it isn't a good idea  to move ballots and registers from one                                                               
community to another. He recalled  a 2020 election in which large                                                               
numbers of  write-in votes from  all over the state  were counted                                                               
in  one large  room. He  further  noted that  recounts are  often                                                               
conducted at  election headquarters,  and asked  why it  would be                                                               
different in  this election  if there were  some reason  to count                                                               
significant  numbers of  ballots with  the appropriate  number of                                                               
observers appropriately distanced.                                                                                              
MS. FENUMIAI  clarified that  her comments  were directed  to the                                                               
review  process, not  the counting  process.  She explained  that                                                               
each  regional office  has a  district absentee  review board  to                                                               
review  the ballots  specific  to the  House  districts within  a                                                               
particular  region's  jurisdiction.  The ballot  reviews  require                                                               
access  to the  voter  registration database,  and  while a  2010                                                               
recount did  take place in  a large  warehouse on Thane  Road [in                                                               
Juneau,] that  is not  the preferred  scenario. The  division has                                                               
since  secured  additional space  in  Juneau  and MatSu  and  the                                                               
absentee  review board  in Region  II now  has a  larger room  to                                                               
accommodate more observers when ballots are reviewed.                                                                           
2:00:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL asked  if she thinks the division  has the capacity                                                               
and  space  to  get  the   ballots  counted  and  reviewed,  with                                                               
appropriate observers, for the upcoming election cycle.                                                                         
MS. FENUMIAI  replied the  division is working  hard to  make the                                                               
process  open  and transparent  while  being  cognizant that  the                                                               
review board  members have to feel  it is safe to  be present. If                                                               
they  don't  feel  safe,  that   jeopardizes  completion  of  the                                                               
process.  She  reiterated  that the  division  has  expanded  the                                                               
spaces and is working with  all parties and groups to accommodate                                                               
2:02:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN  offered his understanding that  in-person observers                                                               
were not allowed  when primary ballots were counted.  He asked if                                                               
the  division would  accommodate observers  from an  unaffiliated                                                               
candidate's  campaign  to  observe  ballot  counting  during  the                                                               
general election.                                                                                                               
2:03:20 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI  replied  observers typically  are  present  during                                                               
ballot review,  but not when  ballots go through the  scanner and                                                               
are counted.  She clarified that  she had been talking  about the                                                               
actual  ballot  review by  the  ballot  review boards.  When  the                                                               
bipartisan  regional counting  board  scans  the ballots,  people                                                               
typically observe  this from a  distance. But when  ballot review                                                               
takes  place,  people  have  to  be close  together  to  look  at                                                               
envelopes and reports and hear what is being said.                                                                              
CHAIR CLAMAN asked  if an independent candidate  would be allowed                                                               
to observe when ballots from their district are being reviewed.                                                                 
MS.  FENUMIAI answered  that certain  statutory provisions  allow                                                               
candidates  not  represented by  a  party  to be  present  during                                                               
ballot review.                                                                                                                  
2:05:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  CLAMAN asked  if it  is the  division's position  that the                                                               
Democratic and  Republican parties can have  someone present, but                                                               
the  individual candidates  do not  have  a right  to be  present                                                               
during ballot review for their particular district.                                                                             
MS.  FENUMIAI replied  the  division is  trying  to resolve  that                                                               
issue, but it would be  difficult in all situations. For example,                                                               
a District 1 review with  Republican, Democratic, and Independent                                                               
candidates would account  for six observers. She  said that takes                                                               
up  a lot  of space  when there  are four  other teams  reviewing                                                               
ballots and  the room  can only accommodate  20 people.  She said                                                               
it's difficult to accommodate people  while keeping everyone safe                                                               
and  ensuring the  process is  transparent, but  the division  is                                                               
working to that end.                                                                                                            
2:07:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX posited  that most  elections aren't  that                                                               
close.  She asked  if the  division  couldn't solve  some of  the                                                               
problems by counting the close elections separately.                                                                            
MS.  FENUMIAI replied  that is  dependent on  locating additional                                                               
space  and  allowing  the  regional   supervisor  to  manage  the                                                               
process. Also, it's difficult to  allocate a specific activity to                                                               
a particular room                                                                                                               
2:08:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  whether  the  statute requires  the                                                               
division to allow each candidate to have observers.                                                                             
MS.  FENUMIAI  deferred  the  question to  Cori  Mills  with  the                                                               
Department of Law.                                                                                                              
2:08:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CORI  MILLS, Assistant  Attorney General,  Civil Division,  Labor                                                               
and  State Affairs  Section, Department  of Law,  Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
explained that under  AS 15.10.170, the Division  of Elections is                                                               
required to  allow poll watchers.  The division  historically has                                                               
interpreted  that   language  to  apply  to   Election  Day  poll                                                               
watchers. The statute talks about  who can appoint a poll watcher                                                               
and the identification the person  must provide in order to watch                                                               
the  counting in  a particular  precinct. That  statute does  not                                                               
address  the  absentee review  process  which  is when  observers                                                               
become part of the process.                                                                                                     
MS. MILLS  stated that  the absentee  review process  requires an                                                               
absentee ballot  review board  to have  bipartisan representation                                                               
when  a review  is  conducted.  She said  there  is no  statutory                                                               
requirement  for candidates  or political  parties to  be present                                                               
during a  recount, but  people are allowed  to challenge  if they                                                               
are  present. She  agreed  with Ms.  Fenumiai  that the  division                                                               
historically has allowed this and  is trying to accommodate it in                                                               
the upcoming election.                                                                                                          
MS.  MILLS   further  advised  that  AS   15.10.170  states  that                                                               
individual  candidates  who  are  nominated by  parties  for  the                                                               
general  election  must  work  with   their  political  party  to                                                               
determine who  will be a poll  watcher. They do not  have a right                                                               
in and of themselves to have a poll watcher.                                                                                    
MS. MILLS continued to state the following:                                                                                     
     The primary  is different,  of course, because  at that                                                                    
     point  you  don't  have nominees.  But  it's  only  the                                                                    
     political party  that can appoint  a poll  watcher, and                                                                    
     all  of their  candidates  that are  nominated by  that                                                                    
     party have to  work with the party on that.  If you are                                                                    
     a  no-party candidate,  that is  different and  you get                                                                    
     your own poll watcher, again, under AS 15.10.170.                                                                          
2:11:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  if  every candidate  is allowed  to                                                               
appoint a  poll watcher  during a  primary election.  She further                                                               
asked  if the  political parties  play a  role in  selecting poll                                                               
watchers during the primary.                                                                                                    
MS. MILLS read the first sentence  of AS 15.10.170(a) that says a                                                               
political party is covered by any election. It reads as follows:                                                                
     Sec.   15.10.170.   Appointment   and   privileges   of                                                                    
     (a) The  precinct party  committee, where  an organized                                                                    
     precinct  committee  exists,   or  the  party  district                                                                    
     committee   where  no   organized  precinct   committee                                                                    
     exists, or the state  party chairperson where neither a                                                                    
     precinct  nor a  party district  committee exists,  may                                                                    
     appoint  one  or  more  persons  as  watchers  in  each                                                                    
     precinct and counting center for any election.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX   indicated  that  she  had   a  follow-up                                                               
CHAIR  CLAMAN  said he  wanted  Ms.  Mills  to proceed  with  her                                                               
presentation,  starting  with  the  history  of  voter  fraud  in                                                               
2:13:21 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MILLS referred  to Chair Claman's earlier  question about the                                                               
lawsuit  regarding  the  number   of  absentee  in-person  voting                                                               
locations in rural areas and  explained that Toyukak v. Treadwell                                                               
was about language  assistance under Section [203]  of the Voting                                                               
Rights Act. The only reference  to absentee voting, other than to                                                               
make  sure   that  oral  translations  were   available,  was  to                                                               
permanent absentee voting. That  is conducting voting entirely by                                                               
absentee by-mail  with no option  for in-person voting.  She said                                                               
the  only   reference  to  permanent   absentee  voting   in  the                                                               
settlement  was  that  the  plaintiffs  had  to  be  notified  if                                                               
permanent absentee voting  was ever set up in  their census areas                                                               
within  the  settlement  timeframe.  She  posited  that  that  is                                                               
because the  preference in most  of rural  Alaska is to  have in-                                                               
person  voting  locations  rather  than  by-mail  elections.  She                                                               
offered  to   do  follow  up   if  the  committees   wanted  more                                                               
CHAIR  CLAMAN said  he  would like  more  information because  he                                                               
understood  that the  settlement  included  specific numbers  for                                                               
early voting locations.                                                                                                         
MS. MILLS replied  she was happy to follow up  and that perhaps a                                                               
case other than Toyukak may have been involved.                                                                                 
2:15:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MILLS  turned to  question 4 regarding  the history  of voter                                                               
fraud in  Alaska and  advised that  Kaci Schroeder,  the Criminal                                                               
Division  legislative  liaison,  and John  Skidmore,  the  deputy                                                               
attorney  general, would  follow  up with  this history.  Neither                                                               
were available  to talk  to the committee  today. She  noted that                                                               
most of the irregularities that  were caught in the 2018 election                                                               
were  caught  in the  absentee  ballot  application part  of  the                                                               
process. Those  were flagged  for the division  to follow  up and                                                               
criminal charges are pending in some of those cases.                                                                            
CHAIR CLAMAN  said he sent  a question  to the Department  of Law                                                               
yesterday about  the Heritage Foundation website  that identified                                                               
three cases since  2000 that had convictions for  voter fraud. He                                                               
asked if it was her understanding  that those were the only cases                                                               
of voter fraud at the present time.                                                                                             
2:17:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MILLS answered yes.                                                                                                         
CHAIR CLAMAN asked her to respond to question 9.                                                                                
MS. MILLS said she would discuss  four lawsuits, all of which are                                                               
preliminary  injunction  cases. The  only  matter  that has  been                                                               
decided is  whether the  court should halt  some process  in this                                                               
election and later make a  final determination on the merits. The                                                               
only  case that  has changed  the election  rules is  the witness                                                               
ballot  case. The  court  declined  to issue  any  change to  the                                                               
election in  the other  three cases.  The superior  court decided                                                               
one of the  cases yesterday and it is in  the appeal period. That                                                               
is the  only case of  the four that  is outstanding for  the 2020                                                               
2:20:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MILLS addressed question 9.a. that read as follows:                                                                         
       9.  The status of the three existing 2020 lawsuits                                                                       
     related to the general election:                                                                                           
           a.  Mailing of absentee ballot applications to                                                                       
She  explained that  the  Disability  Law Center  v.  Meier is  a                                                               
federal case in  which the plaintiffs asserted  that the Division                                                               
of Elections needed to send  by-mail absentee ballot applications                                                               
to every  registered voter  instead of just  those voters  age 65                                                               
and older, as  the lieutenant governor had  directed. The federal                                                               
district  court   declined  to  grant  the   injunction  and  the                                                               
emergency appeal to  the Ninth Circuit Court of  Appeals was also                                                               
refused.  The issue  is decided  for  the 2020  election, so  all                                                               
voters  younger than  age 65  who want  to vote  absentee by-mail                                                               
must request  an application to  do so. She listed  the different                                                               
ways that voters can make the request.                                                                                          
2:22:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MILLS  addressed  question  9.b.  about  the  status  of  an                                                               
existing 2020 general election lawsuit. It read as follows:                                                                     
       9.b.  Party identification on the general election                                                                       
MS. MILLS explained that the issue  in the case of Galvin v.                                                                    
State was whether the Division  of Elections violated either                                                                    
statute  or   the  state  constitution  by   not  listing  a                                                                    
candidate's  voter registration  affiliation on  the general                                                                    
election ballot.  The candidates instead are  listed by name                                                                    
and  the  political  party  that  nominated  them.  No-party                                                                    
candidates who are petition nominees  are listed by name and                                                                    
"petition nominee" as the affiliation.                                                                                          
The  Alaska  Superior  Court  denied  the  request  to  have  the                                                               
Division  of  Elections reprint  the  election  ballots with  the                                                               
candidates'  voter affiliation  added.  The  court findings  were                                                               
that there may  be substantial and serious  legal questions about                                                               
whether  the statute  was followed,  but the  plaintiffs did  not                                                               
show  probable  success  on  the merits.  The  court  denied  the                                                               
injunction saying  that agreeing with the  plaintiff would impose                                                               
a severe burden on the  Division of Elections. The Alaska Supreme                                                               
Court upheld  the lower  court's finding on  appeal based  on the                                                               
standard that  the lower  court did not  abuse its  discretion in                                                               
finding  that  a preliminary  injunction  should  not issue.  She                                                               
noted that  the majority  of the argument  is about  the statute.                                                               
She said this  is an existing question and pending  case that the                                                               
plaintiff  could  ask  the  court  to  address  post-election  to                                                               
determine the underlying legal merits of the claim.                                                                             
2:25:11 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MILLS  addressed  question  9.c.  about  the  status  of  an                                                               
existing 2020 general election lawsuit. It read as follows:                                                                     
        9.c.  Second signature requirement for absentee                                                                         
MS.  MILLS explained  that the  Arctic Village  Council v.  Meyer                                                               
case addressed  the issue of  whether the  witnessing requirement                                                               
for  absentee ballots  was  unconstitutional  under the  specific                                                               
circumstance of the existing COVID-19  pandemic. The argument was                                                               
not that  the witness requirement  is unconstitutional  under any                                                               
circumstances;  the question  was  whether  the pandemic  changed                                                               
that analysis.                                                                                                                  
She  said the  Alaska Superior  Court holding,  which the  Alaska                                                               
Supreme Court upheld, was to  grant the preliminary injunction on                                                               
the grounds  that the  plaintiffs had  shown probable  success on                                                               
the merits.  That is  that the pandemic  has made  the witnessing                                                               
requirements a  severe burden on the  right to vote that  was not                                                               
justified by the  state's interest in integrity and  trust in the                                                               
election. The  court struck down  the witnessing  requirements in                                                               
just this  very narrow circumstance.  She said the state  will go                                                               
back to court  in December for a status conference  to see if the                                                               
plaintiffs think there are any remaining issues post-election.                                                                  
2:27:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MILLS  addressed question  9.d. related to  the status  of an                                                               
existing 2020 general election lawsuit. It read as follows:                                                                     
     9.d.  Any 2020 lawsuits that are not listed above.                                                                         
MS.  MILLS said  the last  lawsuit  she would  discuss is  Alaska                                                               
Center  for Education  Fund v.  Fenumiai. The  legal question  in                                                               
this state court  case is whether it is  unconstitutional for the                                                               
Division  of   Elections  to  prevent  voters   from  curing  any                                                               
deficiencies  on their  absentee  ballot before  the election  is                                                               
certified.  This would  include the  lack of  voter signature  or                                                               
identifier  and the  lack of  witnessing if  witnessing is  found                                                               
enforceable. She  noted that the statute  currently provides that                                                               
the voter  is informed  post-election that  their ballot  was not                                                               
counted and for what reason.                                                                                                    
She  related  that  the  superior   court  yesterday  denied  the                                                               
plaintiff's request to  have the Division of  Elections develop a                                                               
new  cure process  for the  2020  election. The  ruling from  the                                                               
bench  was  that  the  request was  not  justified.  The  primary                                                               
grounds for  the rejection  was that this  was a  policy question                                                               
for  the  legislature. The  case  could  be appealed  before  the                                                               
election or  after because this is  an open question that  is not                                                               
dependent on the pandemic. The  issue could be decided more fully                                                               
post-election with evidentiary hearings.                                                                                        
2:29:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN asked if any members had questions for Ms. Mills.                                                                  
2:29:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KIEHL  asked  if  anything   in  statute  or  regulation                                                               
prevents the state,  either itself or in partnership  with a non-                                                               
partisan  group,  from  contacting   a  voter  and  providing  an                                                               
opportunity to cure a problem with their absentee ballot.                                                                       
MS. MILLS replied  that was one of the arguments  in the case and                                                               
the  state's position  was that  the statutes  don't provide  for                                                               
that.  The voter  certificate  is signed  and  cannot be  changed                                                               
after that.                                                                                                                     
2:32:01 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  ELVI  GRAY-JACKSON,  Alaska State  Legislature,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska,  referred  to  a  letter  she  received  from  Lieutenant                                                               
Governor  Meyer advising  her that  a  ballot drop  box would  be                                                               
placed at Clark  Middle School in Anchorage today.  She asked Ms.                                                               
Fenumiai if that already happened  or if it would happen sometime                                                               
MS.  FENUMIAI  answered  that  the  drop box  was  put  in  place                                                               
CHAIR CLAMAN suggested that she  update the division's website to                                                               
reflect  that Cook  Inlet Tribal  Council is  open for  in-person                                                               
absentee voting  on Monday through  Saturday. The  site currently                                                               
shows just Monday through Friday.                                                                                               
MS.  FENUMIAI  said she  asked  staff  to  update the  site  this                                                               
morning and she would follow up to make certain it happened.                                                                    
2:33:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  TOM BEGICH,  Alaska State  Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska,                                                               
said he requested an absentee  ballot earlier and now has decided                                                               
to  vote absentee  in  person. He  asked if  he  should take  his                                                               
absentee  by-mail ballot  when he  goes  to vote  tomorrow so  he                                                               
doesn't have to vote a question ballot.                                                                                         
MS. FENUMIAI answered  that he would not need to  vote a question                                                               
ballot. The  division asks  people in  this situation  to destroy                                                               
their absentee  by-mail ballot at  home and then proceed  to vote                                                               
at an early voting location or their precinct on Election Day.                                                                  
2:33:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MILLS added that anybody  who has posted their voted absentee                                                               
ballot should not vote again, either early or on Election Day.                                                                  
2:34:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN closed invited testimony                                                                                           
CHAIR  CLAMAN  said  he  wanted  to take  a  moment  of  personal                                                               
privilege to  thank Senator Coghill  for his long service  to the                                                               
state in both the House and Senate.  "I like to think of him both                                                               
as a man  of his community, a  man of the people, [and]  a man of                                                               
Alaska." He noted that Senator  Coghill would also like to remind                                                               
him that he thinks of himself as  a man of God. He said he's also                                                               
a friend.  They put their  political differences aside  and focus                                                               
on what is good for Alaska.  "I really can't say enough about how                                                               
much respect I have  for the work that he has  done over the time                                                               
that I've  been in  the legislature -  the guidance  you've given                                                               
me, the mentoring, and the friendship."                                                                                         
2:36:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL replied, "Thank you;  it's been a privilege serving                                                               
with all of you and I've enjoyed the friendship."                                                                               
2:36:17 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
and Senate  Judiciary Standing  Committees meeting  was adjourned                                                               
at 2:36 p.m.                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Topics and Questions for Joint Judiciary Committee Meeting on Oct 16, 2020.pdf HJUD 10/16/2020 1:00:00 PM