JUNEAU – Today, Representative Geran Tarr introduced legislation to bring voter participation into the 21st Century through a simple online system. Under the proposal, voters could sign in to the existing Legislative information database, BASIS, using their social and professional media accounts.
From there, Alaskans could respectfully comment on bills, vote bills up or down, and share their ideas for new legislation or amendments.
“My constituents work long and varied hours, and they care greatly about the future of our state. This is a low cost way to make the legislative process accessible and to ensure that their voices are heard,” said Tarr (D-Anchorage). “Weighing in on important state matters would be as easy as commenting on Facebook or on articles online.”
Crowdsourcing and open-source technologies led to revolutionary models, such as Linux and Wikipedia which allow for increased transparency and provide mechanisms for rapid feedback. Using this model, legislators can ensure that they are working on issues important to their constituents and make efficient use of their time when reviewing bills or drafting new legislation.
“As technology improves in rural areas, this should also allow more Alaskans from our villages and coastal communities to weigh in on important issues. Overall, we would see a notable increase in civic participation,” said Tarr.
This bill (HB329) proposes a system modeled after Arizona Voices, the first of its kind website that allows Arizona voters to weigh in on matters and offer their feedback and ideas for legislation. The Arizona Voices website can be found here: https://www.azvoices.gov/.
HB 329 was referred to the House State Affairs committee.