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.
Mittman likened the cost of getting an ID to an unconstitutional “poll tax” that would likely be overturned, if challenged, in court. Begich has stood by his comments as well.
Huntington said she didn’t get a photo ID until age 20 when she got her drivers’ license. Before that, she only drove four-wheelers around the village. Many Native elders don’t have photo IDs either, she noted. But Elfin Cove’s Travis Lewis supported the bill, and said it was needed –even in his small Chichagof Island community. It wouldn’t make legitimate voting more difficult, he contended.
“I can’t imagine anyone in this day and age who doesn’t have proper identification,” he said.
Despite numerous comments saying there was no voter fraud problem to address, Lewis said he’d seen what looked like it in Elfin Cove.
“We have people from other states with voter registration cards who are voting in our community,” he said. Those people may well be voting elsewhere as well, he said.