A statewide effort to make it easier for people to vote is culminating this week. On Jan. 14, petitioners submitted tens of thousands of required signatures to the Division of Elections to earn the PFD voter registration initiative a spot on a ballot this fall. The campaign began late last year in Anchorage and snowballed to other communities, including Sitka, Ketchikan, Kotzebue, Bethel and Fairbanks. Overall, the PFD voter ballot initiative – a proposal that automatically registers people to vote at the same time they apply for their yearly payouts—has gained support from some 42,000 Alaskans. That’s nearly double the number it needed to make it on a ballot in case some signatures were invalid. Here’s John-Henry Heckendorn, the Anchorage-based campaign manager for the PFD voter initiative. “We’re confident that by overshooting the required mark by so much we’re going to make it onto the ballot.”
After the Division of Elections combs through all the signatures, the proposal will likely show up in August’s primary or November’s general elections. Then, it will be up to voters.
Heckendorn says the “common sense” initiative was born out of a working group on elections reform, organized by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallot, and gained support across party lines.
The PFD voter ballot initiative is endorsed by a broad spectrum of agencies, including the NAACP, the League of Women voters and the Alaska Federation of Natives. The majority of the campaign’s funding has come from ANCSA Regional Association, Alaska Conservation Voters and the ACLU of Alaska.