We live in the digital age. With a few clicks of the mouse or finger taps on a smartphone we have access to a wealth of information that was unimaginable just a few years ago. An entire generation has grown up with the Internet, and it seems like there is an app for everything. You may even be reading this on your smartphone right now. But there is one aspect of our lives that has not embraced the digital transition. And it relates to the most important aspect of our democracy: voting. For some reason, we Alaskans cannot register to vote without printing out a piece of paper and mailing it to the State Division of Elections. It is hard to believe we are still dealing with such an anachronism, especially when we have been able to apply for our annual Permanent Fund dividend (PFD) online, through a secure platform, for a decade (something over 83 percent of Alaskans now do). Fortunately, we can change this.
The State of Alaska collects all the information it needs to register you to vote when you file for your PFD. However, over 70,000 adult Alaskans currently collect the PFD without also being registered to vote. Forcing Alaskans to file multiple forms with the exact same information is inefficient and unnecessary.
Here is where you come in. Until January 2016, the start of the next state Legislative session, you can sign the PFD Voter Initiative to put this question on the ballot in August 2016. This initiative, if implemented, would allow prospective voters to create or update their voter registration using the information provided while filing for their PFD. This initiative will consolidate duplicative state functions and improve access to the polls for all Alaskans.