Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/23/1996 03:43 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 364 ELECTION CRIMES; INTERFERENCE W/VOTING CHAIRMAN SHARP brought up HB 364 as the next order of business before the Senate State Affairs Committee. He called a representative of the prime sponsor to testify. Number 315 PATTI SWENSON, Aide to Representative Con Bunde, prime sponsor of HB 364, stated the impetus for the bill was the Dansereau v. Ulmer lawsuit, which deals in part with the unlawful interference with voting in the first degree. The purpose of HB 364 is to align state law with federal law. This would clarify that people cannot be paid to vote in Alaska. Ms. Swenson urged support of HB 364. HAROLD J. CURRAN, North Slope Borough, Office of the Mayor, submitted written testimony: CSHB 364 (JUD) am is significantly better than the original bill, which would, among other things, make any person who drove a neighbor to the polls a felon. Before the legislature tries to make the North Slope Borough's efforts to give its residents equal access to the voting booth illegal, please consider the following: 1. The State of Alaska is obligated under the Voting Rights Act to pre-clear changes to its election laws; 2. Giving a voter transportation to or from the polls is significantly easier in urban Alaska due to government subsidized roads and telephone systems; 3. The only way to give rural Alaskans assistance in getting to the polls, the overwhelming majority of whom subsist for extended periods of time at great distance from their limited road and phone systems, is to reimburse them for the cost of transportation to and from the polls; 4. The failure to give rural residents equal access to the polls is anti-democratic and is likely a denial of equal protection under the Alaska State Constitution; 5. Since the majority of rural residents are native, denial of equal access to the polls is a violation of the Voting Rights Act; 6. The proposed language set out below will cure these problems: AS 15.56.030 (G) a voter's costs for transportation to or from the polls. There is not need to scope the above language for rural Alaska because the minimal cost for urban voters to get to the polls will regulate the use of this exception to AS 15.56.030(a)(2). Thank you for your time and consideration. Number 335 SENATOR LEMAN asked if, on page 2, line 14, "on" shouldn't be "of". MS. SWENSON stated her copy of the bill says "of". SENATOR LEMAN and other committee members state their copy says "on". MS. SWENSON replied that must be a typo. SENATOR LEMAN asked that be noted and corrected to "of". He asked Ms. Swenson if she's seen the memo from Harold Curran (see above). MS. SWENSON stated she has not seen the memo. She thinks perhaps Ms. Shriner from the Division of Elections could address that question. Number 360 DIANE SHRINER, Division of Elections, stated the bill would implement criminal penalties. However, the things the bill does not include are covered in Section 2, paragraph (2). SENATOR LEMAN thinks Section 2, paragraph (2) is a good response to Mr. Curran's memo. Senator Leman thinks the memo is incorrect. MS. SHRINER thinks it is incorrect also. She stated that when HB 364 was being drafted, the Division of Elections asked that some of these things be spelled out as specifically as possible, so the division appreciates the inclusion of those examples. The Division of Elections supports HB 364. CHAIRMAN SHARP asked the pleasure of the committee regarding HB 364. Number 380 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS made a motion to discharge HB 364 from the Senate State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR LEMAN objected for the purpose of reminding members of the typo that needs to be corrected. He also thinks the bill should have a retroactive date to 1994. MS. SWENSON stated the sponsor would support that. SENATOR LEMAN removed his objection. Number 390 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated HB 364 was discharged from the Senate State Affairs Committee.