The 27th Alaska State Legislature, 2011 - 2012||
Sponsor Statement: House Bill 178
“An Act relating to election practices and procedures; and providing for an effective date.”
Posted: March 8, 2011 : v27_LS0304-I
Status: (H) FIN : 2011-04-06
In 2009 Congress passed the MOVE Act which outlines procedures that make it easier for overseas military and civilians to use our electoral system. Overseas military personnel and civilians represent 61,000 of Alaska's eligible voters. These voters face a myriad of challenges when pursuing their fundamental right to vote. Additionally, those who live in remote areas of the state experience similar challenges. In 2010 approximately 41,000 voters voted absentee in Alaska. HB 178 increases the accessibility of our electoral system for these voters by expanding absentee voting.
- Moves the primary back 2 weeks, allowing for more time for voters to receive information. One of the greatest concerns for military and overseas voters is the amount of time to receive and return their ballot. (This assists the Department in accommodating the 45 day requirement established under MOVE)
- Removes witnessing requirements alleviating the burden of our military voters from finding a witness when stationed remotely. (MOVE requirement)
- Establishes "email" in statute as a form of electronic transmission allowing for ballots and information to be distributed via email. This is another provision that addresses the challenges of the voter to get the ballot in a timely manner and returned.
- Changes the deadline for overseas voters to 10 days aligning it with the 10 day deadline for domestic absentee ballots. It also allows more time for the department to finalize ballots and send them out to our military and overseas voters. (Further assisting the accommodation of the 45 day MOVE ballot distribution time for military and overseas voters).
- Provides for the city clerk to administer absentee ballots. This further expands access options for our rural and remote voters to receive and return their absentee ballot.
These outlined changes align our state statutes with MOVE as well as improve voter access within our own state. All voters deserve, and are required to have, equal access to our electoral system. HB 178 accomplishes this by bringing our statues in line with federal law and greatly improving access and ease to our absentee voting system.
I urge your support of HB 178.