Election reform bill would expand voter access

An election reform bill prefiled by Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, would expand voter access via voting by mail and modernize Alaska elections.

House Bill 66 would make permanent some changes implemented in 2020 allowing Alaskans to vote safely and in record numbers during a pandemic, the Anchorage legislator said. The bill also would authorize same-day voter registration, allowing first-time voters to register and vote on election day. It would also eliminate the witness requirement for absentee ballots.

Tuck credited the record turnout of over 361,000 voters to the ease of being able to vote by mail.

“Because of the pandemic, we finally made it convenient for people to vote, and not surprisingly, they voted in record numbers,” Tuck said. “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.”

“Every Alaskan in every community should have the same opportunity to make their voices heard by exercising their constitutional right to vote,” said Kendra Kloster, executive director of Native Peoples Action and Native Peoples Action Community Fund. “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.”