A bill that would require Alaska’s voters to present photo identification at the polls has been moved out of its final committee of referral in the House of Representatives. HB3, by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, was advanced from the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. The measure now moves to the House Rules Committee, which could schedule it for a vote. It would then go to the Senate if it passes. The bill would stipulate that voters present a form of photo ID or two forms of non-photo identification to election officials. If two officials know the voter, the identification requirement can be waived. Voters who do not meet any of those requirements could still submit a questioned ballot and prove their identity later.
Articles about voting issues in Alaska.
A controversial bill that critics say will make it harder for Alaskans to vote by imposing new identification requirements cleared its first committee Thursday despite objections from the AARP, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Alaska Association of Municipal Clerks and the American Civil Liberties Union. One of the sponsors, Anchorage Republican Rep. Bob Lynn, said House Bill 3 won’t stop a single person from voting and that some of the critics have misconstrued what he aims to do. “I want to emphasize that the only purpose of HB 3 is simply to help ensure that the person who shows up at the polling place is actually the person who they say they are. And I think that’s basically a pretty good idea,” said Lynn, who chairs the State Affairs Committee that passed the bill out with lukewarm support.
Alaska: Does Alaska have a voter fraud problem? – Despite controversy, voter ID bill takes next step in Alaska Legislature | Alaska Dispatch
A voter ID bill that drew sharp criticism from U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on his recent visit to the Alaska Legislature is moving forward, with its sponsor denying the senator’s claims about the bill. Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, said his House Bill 3 was the victim of “misinformation” spread by Begich, D-Alaska. “Nothing whatsoever in House Bill 3 prevents anyone from voting if they are registered and motivated to vote,” he said Thursday, while chairing the House State Affairs Committee hearing his bill. Those who don’t have photo ID can present other forms of identification or cast questioned ballots, he said. Stricter voter ID requirements was the focus of Begich’s remarks – and his criticisms were reinforced at a hearing Thursday by Jeffrey Mittman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska and Joy Huntington of the Tanana Chiefs Conference.
Remarks by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in defense of the Voting Rights Act and its special protections for Alaska Natives have come under fire from some in state government, but the first-term Democrat is standing behind them and even gaining some other defenders. Speaking in Juneau earlier this week, Begich criticized a bill in the Alaska Legislature that would require photo identification for voters, as well as the Parnell administration’s court attempts to overturn the civil rights legislation, which gives special protections to Natives and special authority over state elections to the U.S. Department of Justice. Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, said Begich misrepresented what his House Bill 3 would do. “Contrary to his assertion before our Legislature, nothing in HB 3 erects any barriers to any voter,” Lynn said. That’s because requiring photo identification is not a barrier, he said. Begich maintained it is, citing some of his own staff members with elderly relatives lacking photo IDs who had for years voted and participated in their villages. They’d be barred from voting without the photo IDs, he said.
Lawmakers have begun deliberations on a bill that would require voters to present photo identification when casting their ballots, but one critic said the geography and ethnic makeup of the state would likely make the law unconstitutional if passed. The House State Affairs Committee began discussing HB3, by Reps. Bob Lynn and Wes Keller, on Thursday. Lynn and Keller serve as the chair and vice-chair of the committee, respectively. “Voting is the very foundation of our Democratic republic,” Lynn said to the committee. “To protect that foundation, voters must be who they say they are.” The bill, as currently drafted, could pose unique practical and constitutional problems for Alaska due to its geography and large native population, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union in Alaska said.
A bill before the Alaska Legislature requiring tough photo ID rules for voting is running into some bipartisan criticism. At a hearing Thursday, the bill sponsored by state Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, came in for both for criticisms and questions that couldn’t be readily answered during a House State Affairs Committee hearing. Efforts to require identification before voting are described by supporters as a way to prevent voter fraud, but are seen by critics as a way to disenfranchise certain voters, especially among the elderly or poor who are less likely to have the necessary ID or documentation to get it, and to those Alaskans living far from the DMV offices where they can obtain photo IDs. “The proposal to require (ID), I think, will disenfranchise many of our people in the villages,” said Myron Nanchang, president of the Association of Village Council Presidents in Bethel, representing 56 Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta villages in Southwest Alaska. Bill sponsor and committee chairman Lynn denied the bill is intended to suppress traditionally Democratic votes in the dozens of roadless villages dotting the Alaska hinterland. “Absolutely not,” he said. “Everybody’s vote is as good as anybody else’s vote, no matter how they vote, whatever their party.”
It’s not too difficult to get an “I voted” sticker in Alaska. As long as you’re registered, you just have to show a piece of identification at the polls, like a driver’s license or a utility bill. Even if you don’t have ID, you can cast a questioned ballot if an election worker can vouch for you. But two bills lawmakers are considering this year could change that process, in very different ways. The first piece of legislation would create stricter rules for what qualifies as an acceptable ID. It would amend current statute so you would have to show a photo ID, or bring two non-photo IDs like a birth certificate or a government permit. Utility bills wouldn’t be enough anymore. And if you don’t have anything on you, you would now need two election workers to recognize you instead of just one.
The Alaska Redistricting Board wants the state’s highest court to reconsider its decision that requires Alaska’s political boundaries to be redrawn. Attorneys for the board said in a petition filed this week that the court misconstrued or overlooked important facts in the case. They say the court – whose review of the plan is limited, they say, to ensuring the plan is not unreasonable and is constitutional – ignored its duty in failing to answer whether the plan adopted by the board was constitutional.
For a third time, the Alaska Supreme Court emphasized deference to state law while nixing the latest congressional district lines. Alaska’s redistricting board began redrawing congressional districts in 2011 after receiving data from the 2010 U.S. Census. A federal voting rights expert urged the board to draw district boundaries with a focus on creating “effective” Native districts that give Natives the ability to elect candidates of their own choosing. But when this map led to a slew of lawsuits, a Fairbanks superior court judge threw it out and found that four of the proposed House districts unnecessarily deviated from state constitutional requirements.
In an early sign of Republican muscle-flexing in the reordered Alaska Legislature, an Anchorage House member says he plans to revive a dormant bill to require Alaskans to show a photo ID to vote. ”It’ll be one of the first bills we hear,” said Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, the chairman of the House State Affairs Committee. Voter photo ID laws in other states were hugely controversial in this fall’s national elections because poor, elderly and minorities are less likely than other voters to have photo identification like a driver license; those same groups are also more likely to vote Democratic. Judges in two states with strict photo ID requirements, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, held off enforcement of those laws, at least for this election.