Alaska voter ID bill closer to a House vote

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April 11, 2013


By Alex Murray

JUNEAU, Alaska: A voter identification bill cleared the Judiciary Committee of the Alaska House of Representatives on Tuesday, putting it one step closer to a floor vote.

House Bill 3, sponsored by Bob Lynn (R) and Wes Keller (R), would require voters to present either one form of photo identification, or two non-photographic forms. If two officials present at the voting location recognize a voter, the requirement would not apply. Voters not meeting either condition would be able to submit a provisional ballot, known as a questioned ballot.[1]

Alaska is currently one of 33 states with a non-photographic identification requirement.

Lynn reiterated to the Judiciary Committee what he had told the State Affairs Committee in March, that the bill was necessary to combat voter fraud in any amount. Opponents including the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the requirements would amount to a poll tax, and that rural and Native Alaskan voters would be disadvantaged in obtaining suitable identification. Neal Foster (D) introduced and later pulled an amendment that would have exempted villages with a population of under 5,000 from the bill's requirements. The bill even saw skepticism from Republicans; Shelley Hughes said in February that even a relative few voters should not be disenfranchised, and Lynn Gattis stated that voter fraud was not significant enough to act upon.[1][2][3]

The office of Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell (R) said earlier this month that a recent cross-check of voter rolls in 22 states yielded over 25,000 Alaskans that may have duplicate voter registrations between states, and that 14 may have voted in two states in the 2012 general election. Treadwell added that the administration of Governor Sean Parnell (R) did not move for the introduction House Bill 3.[4]

The bill now must pass the Rules Committee before coming up for a floor vote. Should it pass the House, the Senate would then consider the bill.[1]

Alaska is one of 24 Republican state government trifectas. It is also one of nine states that are fully obliged to comply with the Voting Rights Act, and would thus need to submit a voter ID law to the U.S. Department of Justice for pre-clearance, a requirement that will soon be reviewed by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Shelby County v. Holder.[5]

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