Rep. Les Gara • Rep. Geran Tarr • Rep. Max Gruenberg
PRESS RELEASE • January 24, 2013
Democrats Push Same Day Voter Registration: Want More People Voting, Not Fewer
(JUNEAU) – Today a group of Democrats announced they are filing a bill to increase the number of Alaskans who vote. Their bill will allow Alaskans to register the same day they vote. The bill contrasts with efforts we saw leading up to the 2012 election. That effort was pushed by the corporate-funded GOP leaning group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and others to lower voter turnout by requiring additional forms of identification not currently required in Alaska. ALEC is funded by companies like the foreign drug-maker Bayer, drug-maker Abbott Labs, and over a hundred large corporations. See a complete list at www.sourcewatch.org.
“The goal is to enable people to exercise their constitutional right to vote. We want more people to vote, and be engaged in our democracy. Not fewer people voting,” said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anch), the bill’s prime sponsor.
Currently there is a bill pending in the Alaska Legislature that requires photo ID, or hard to locate documents like a birth certificate and other documents people might not readily have at their disposal. “We value the right of Americans to vote. We don’t cherish roadblocks to voting. People who are qualified and want to vote should be able to vote,” said Rep. Max Gruenberg (D-Anch), a main co-sponsor of the bill who sits on the Judiciary Committee where these bills are likely to be heard.
“We don’t believe the voter identification bill sponsor has any ill intent. But the effect will be what ALEC intends: to disenfranchise thousands of Alaskans when we should be encouraging more people to vote,” said Gara. That bill has created some public controversy.
Same day registration is allowed for voting in presidential elections under federal law, and in 11 states in state elections, where it has performed well. Minnesota, which has same day voter registration, has the highest voter turnout in the nation. Eleven more states are considering same day voter registration laws. In contrast, the need for additional ID blocks thousands from voting, when there has only been one case of voter fraud in Alaska history according to Alaska’s Director of the Division of Elections. According to Montana officials, no voter fraud has followed as a result of their same day voter registration law.
Sponsor Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anch) notes: “What I know from talking with my neighbors is that they want to vote. For someone to miss out because of something as simple as not updating their address, or when the government changes district lines, undermines democracy and citizen input into who represents them. It is important to address this issue now because district lines will change again for the 2014 election.”
Without same day voter registration the following Alaskans who want to vote will have their votes in legislative races disqualified – races that are often decided by just a few votes:
– Voters who move a few blocks and don’t realize under redistricting that they are voting in the wrong district
– Young voters who don’t know the arbitrary rule that you have to register 30 days before you vote
– Voters who move, show up at their old voting precinct, and don’t realize their vote will not count in legislative and local races
The bill’s co-sponsors include Rep. Scott Kawasaki, Rep. Chris Tuck and Rep. Andy Josephson. The bill will be read across on Monday, January 28.
For more information, contact Rep. Gara at 465-2647; Rep. Tarr at 465-3424; or Rep. Gruenberg at 465-4940.