Democrats’ Bill to Extend Voting by Mail Passes Committee

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CONTACT: Ted Madsen, Staff to Rep. Gruenberg (907) 465-4940



Democrats' Bill to Extend Voting by Mail Passes Committee

Bill would make it easier for seniors, rural Alaskans and people with disabilities to vote


JUNEAU – Representative Max Gruenberg's bill to make voting by mail easier passed the House State Affairs Committee today.  The bill would allow all Alaskans the same right as military and overseas voters whose applications to vote by mail remain effective for two general elections (up to four years). 

"Participating in our democracy is a right of citizenship," said Rep. Gruenberg (D-Anchorage), "and it should not be made difficult or inconvenient. Reducing the paperwork to vote by mail makes it easier for Alaskans to vote, especially those who have a hard time getting to their polling place."

Currently, voters must request a ballot each time they vote by mail, although they may apply before the primary election for mail-in ballots for both the primary in August and the next general election in November.  State law allows uniformed service members and out-of-state voters to receive mail ballots for the next two general elections after they apply for a mail ballot. Rep. Gruenberg's legislation (HB 287) will extend the same right to all Alaskans. Under the bill, an application from a qualified voter to vote by mail will be valid through the next two general elections. In addition, each time the voter casts a mail ballot, the application will continue to be valid through the next two general elections. If the mail ballot is returned to the Division of Elections as undeliverable, the division will not have to send more ballots to that address. All the security and evaluation procedures already in place for handling absentee ballots will still apply to absentee ballots.

"I've heard from so many people in my district who can't make it to the polls but want to vote in every election," said Rep. Petersen (D-Anchorage), the co-sponsor of the legislation. "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."

Passage of HB 287 will expedite the absentee voting process for Alaskans who regularly vote absentee and increase voting access for those who have difficulty voting in person.  Rural Alaskans, college students, senior citizens, and people with disabilities regularly choose to vote by mail.

This act does not change voting rights. Voters can still request a one-time absentee ballot vote at their regular voting places or from the division of elections, just as they do now.




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Graham Judson Press Secretary
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