Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/23/1996 03:43 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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        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.                                      

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