Dunleavy, Meyer advocate changes in election process

Gov. Mike Dunleavy addresses Electrify Alaska! Conference attendees. (Oct. 25, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer are promoting a bill to be introduced in the upcoming Legislature that they say will improve the way the Division of Elections maintains voter rolls and also makes the election system more secure.

During a teleconference on Tuesday, Dec. 28, they discussed highlights of the proposed bill, including increases in the transparency of the election process for election observers and what they describe as an improved ballot-counting process to ensure accuracy.

The bill, not yet in its final form, also would change the current process of automatic voter registration for those registering for the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend. Instead, if the bill passed, PFD applicants would have to request voter registration.

The bill is to include amendments and provision requiring the Division of Elections to maintain the master voter file differently and issue a required report every other year to the Legislature. These would include increase in the transparency of the election process an improved ballot-counting process, and a toll-free election offense hotline.

Also included would be training for police officers on election offenses, so if they are called on to investigate new crimes they would have sufficient training to do their investigation appropriately.

Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, said she would withhold comment until she sees the actual legislation.

Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said he was looking forward to delving into details of this Election Integrity bill.

“It is complex, and Alaskans deserve a comprehensive analysis of election concerns and difficulties we have experienced in the past,” Stevens said.

“Just as important though is make sure no one, who is eligible to vote, will ever be denied the opportunity to participate in our democracy,” he said. “Every vote must count, and we must be careful of creating any barriers that would discourage legitimate voters from going to the polls.”