A group of Alaskans is making its final push in an effort to get an initiative on the state ballot that would allow people to automatically register to vote while signing up for their Permanent Fund Dividend. The group, based in Anchorage, has been gathering signatures throughout the state throughout the fall. They need 28,500 signatures — 10 percent of voter turnout from 2014 — to make the ballot in 2016. The signatures must come from at least three-fourths of the state’s legislative districts. The group must submit its signatures before the start of the 2016 legislative session, which begins Jan. 19. That means the group has a little more than a month to complete its effort. If the group succeeds, the initiative would appear on either the primary election ballot in August or the general election ballot next November.
The initiative itself is loosely modeled after a similar law in Oregon that linked the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles with voter registration. That law passed in 2014 and made it so anyone who registers for a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote as well. Officials in Oregon estimate the program will help register hundreds of thousands of new voters.
In Alaska, the ballot initiative would take advantage of infrastructure that already exists. It would link the state’s PFD registration system — which already requires the same information needed for voter registration — to the voting rolls. Anyone who didn’t wish to be registered to vote could opt out during the PFD sign-up process.