House Bill 66 removes barriers to the ballot box at every stage of Alaska’s elections
JUNEAU –Today, Representative Chris Tuck pre-filed election reform legislation to expand voting access and to modernize Alaska’s elections.
“In November, over 361,000 Alaskans voted. Never in our state’s history have so many Alaskans cast a ballot in an election. Why did so many people vote? I think the answer is crystal clear; vote by
mail made it easy. Because of the pandemic, we finally made it convenient for people to vote, and not surprisingly, they voted in record numbers,” said Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).
“Active voting participation is key to a strong democracy. My goal with this bill is straightforward, to remove barriers to the ballot box at every stage of our elections. HB 66 makes it more convenient to vote before election day and makes it easier to vote
on election day.”
Bill 66 makes permanent some of the changes implemented last year that allowed Alaskans
to vote safely and in record numbers during a pandemic. Additionally, HB 66 would authorize same-day voter registration, allowing first-time voters to register and vote on election day.
Provisions in House Bill 66 include:
- Allowing the use of electronic signatures for voter registration.
- Calling for the same early voting locations to be available during every election.
- Creating an option for permanent absentee voting for individuals that plan to vote by mail in every election.
- Requiring the Division of Elections to provide a postage-paid return envelope with absentee ballots, eliminating the need for stamps to vote.
- Clarifying terminology for early voting to remove confusion between early voting and absentee in-person voting.
- Requiring election officials to notify a voter if their absentee ballot is rejected.
- Requiring the Division of Elections to offer a voter the option to fix a mailed-in absentee ballot if there are errors.
- Eliminating the witness requirement for absentee ballots.
- Increasing the pay for poll workers from $12 per hour to $15 per hour.
- Clarifying that candidates and groups sponsoring ballot initiatives can have poll watchers.
- Allowing absentee ballots to be counted as they are received instead of waiting until after the polls close on election day.
“Every Alaskan in every community should have the same opportunity to make their voices heard by exercising their constitutional right to vote. The recurring voting barriers were exacerbated in the
2020 elections and reemphasized the need for voting reforms. House Bill 66 is a critical step in moving toward a more equitable and accessible voting system for all. I look forward to working with the legislature, Division of Elections, and the public in a
genuine way to continue improving our voting processes,” said Kendra Kloster, executive director of Native
Peoples Action and Native Peoples Action Community Fund.
HB 66 has been pre-filed for consideration by the 32nd Alaska
State Legislature, which begins on Tuesday, January 19 in Juneau.
Representative Chris Tuck
Alaska House Majority