(Anchorage) – Alaska Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer and Governor Mike Dunleavy Tuesday announced the Election Integrity Bill to improve the way the Division of Elections maintains voter rolls while providing additional tools to ensure a more secure system.
“After the 2020 nationwide election, we saw that election integrity was a concern for many Americans,” said Lieutenant Governor Meyer. “Alaskans deserve to feel confident that the election process is conducted fairly and with integrity. At the end of the day, The Election Integrity bill will help place trust back into the election process.”
In the Election Integrity Bill, there are changes to the Permanent Fund Dividend – Automatic Voter Registration process, giving the option to request voter registration. These changes will allow for more secure data to come from the Department of Revenue to the Division of Elections to clean up the voter lists.
The bill includes amendments and provisions that would require the Division of Elections to maintain the master voter file differently and issue a required report every other year to the legislature. There will also be increases in the transparency of the election process, an improved ballot-counting process, and a toll-free election offense hotline.
The bill will provide additional ways to verify that the person voting an absentee ballot is the voter whose name is on it, such as using signature verification equipment. There will be a more thorough definition of crimes around election fraud and election interference.
In addition, the bill sets up future training for police officers on election offenses, so if they are called upon to investigate these new crimes, they have the training to complete the investigation appropriately.
The proposed bill will make Alaska’s elections more secure and efficient while increasing confidence and integrity in election processes and results. The Election Integrity Bill will be introduced in the next few weeks.
“This Election Integrity Bill will ensure confidence with Alaskans and help rebuild trust in the election process,” said Governor Dunleavy. “We are making the current system more secure through improvements. By consolidating ideas from past bills introduced in the Legislature and incorporating practices from other states, we hope to establish a more trustworthy elections system.”
Here are some highlights from the proposed bill:
- The changes to the Permanent Fund Dividend – Automatic Voter Registration come after more than 5 years of experience with the process. PFD applicants will have to request voter registration. These changes will allow for more secure data to come from the Department of Revenue to the Division of Elections to clean up our voter lists.
- New statutory changes amend the list maintenance language statute to require the Division of Elections to review certain records, such as deceased voters, voters registered in other states, certain felony convictions, among others. The Division of Elections will be required to consult a subject-matter expert to audit the list of registered voters and issue a report every other year.
- Within the bill, there will be increases in the transparency of the election process for election observers and an improved ballot-counting process to ensure accuracy. The bill includes the creation of a toll-free election offense hotline for voters to use if they see questionable activity at the polls.
- The bill reinforces the belief that absentee ballot signatures should be witnessed and it pays the postage costs for the return envelopes. This legislation requires free online bill tracking to be set up. The bill will provide additional ways to verify that the person voting an absentee ballot is the voter whose name is on it, such as using signature verification equipment. Absentee voting integrity will be improved through the future acquisition of new signature verification equipment.
- The bill gives voters the option to request an absentee ballot for a 4-year window application, instead of a permanent absentee option.
- The bill provides voters the option to fix any minor errors to their ballot by establishing ballot curing. Ballot curing is a popular way for voters to fix any problems with an absentee or mail ballot to ensure their vote is counted.
- Working in conjunction with smaller communities and villages, this bill gives the Division of Elections the ability to mail ballots should it be required to give some Alaskans the chance to vote, even during a pandemic.
- The bill will require new regulations for routine forensic examinations and chain of custody protocols for tabulators to be created and followed. When questions arise, there will be tools set forth to ensure an accurate accounting of election results.
- The bill introduces a more thorough definition of crimes around election fraud and election interference that will provide clarity in the case of unlawful interference with voting.
- The bill also sets up future training for police officers on election offenses, so if they are called upon to investigate these new crimes, they have the training to complete the investigation appropriately.