FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rep. Petersen Introduces Permanent Absentee Voting Legislation
Bill would make it easier for seniors, rural Alaskans and people with disabilities to vote
JUNEAU – In order to make voting easier for Alaskans who have difficulty getting to their polling place, Representative Pete Petersen (D-Anchorage) introduced legislation today to allow Alaskans the option to register as permanent absentee voters.
"I've heard from so many people in my district who just can't make it to the polls but want to vote in every election," said Rep. Petersen. "Right now, they have to get a new form, fill it out and mail it in every time they want to vote. It shouldn't be that inconvenient for Alaskans to participate in our democracy."
Rep. Petersen's legislation (HB 260) would allow Alaskans to register for permanent absentee status so they would not have to re-register for an absentee ballot for every election. Instead, the state would automatically mail them an absentee ballot. All of the security or evaluation procedures that are already in place for handling absentee ballots would still apply to permanent absentee ballots.
Allowing the option to register as a permanent absentee voter will expedite the absentee voting process for Alaskans who regularly vote absentee, increase access to voting for those who have difficulty reaching a polling place, and reduce paperwork for the Division of Elections. Many rural Alaskans, college students, senior citizens and people with disabilities regularly choose to vote absentee.
This act does not change voting rights. Voters can still request a one-time absentee ballot vote at their regular voting places, just as they do now.