Ever had an old car start to break down? Maybe the filters get clogged and the tires wear down and you find yourself burning money as your gas mileage deteriorates. The brake pads start to squeak, “check engine” lights flicker on, and you begin to notice that ominous clicking sound from what you think is probably the radiator. If you’ve spent at least a couple winters in the 49th state, the chances are good this has happened to you. You’d like to ignore the warnings, but you know if you don’t get under the hood, the problems with the car are only going to get worse, and more expensive. The state of Alaska has a similar problem. Our Division of Elections database is more than 30 years old. Even by Subaru standards, that’s pretty bad.
Every year we burn tax dollars by sending thousands of voter registration cards and election pamphlets to wrong addresses. We process all voter registration through a paper system that we know is cost-inefficient. And the division estimates there may be as many as 70,000 Alaskans who would qualify to vote but are not registered. That’s a lot for a state with less than half a million registered voters total.
Contrast that with the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend system. We have spent millions of dollars designing a state of the art online application system for the PFD, an online option that enjoys an 83 percent participation rate across the state. We have endowed the PFD with some of the most sophisticated fraud detection resources in state government.