Voting legislation has drawn lots of attention these days. There is very little chance that any election/voting bills will pass this year in Juneau. The House and the Senate are leaning in opposite directions. However, Kenai Peninsula Votes (KPV) thinks this is a good thing because a pause for any voting bill might defuse some of the tension we are currently feeling about voting. Our organization would like to see any voting bills coming out of Juneau have bi-partisan support. In Kentucky a voting bill was passed by both bodies, with major bipartisan support, and now is just waiting for the governor’s signature.
In Juneau, Senate Bill (SB) 39, referred to as the election integrity bill, has been the most talked about election bill to date in our state. It is sponsored by Wasilla Republican Senator Mike Shower. Currently, SB 39 is being “marked up,” and likely will look different than its original format presented back in January. One senator said over a zoom meeting that he thinks some of these changes can be attributed to the written testimony that has been received on the bill. (Yes, your voice does matter)
While listening to SB 39 testimony, a new voting option was introduced. Chris Miller testified about how voting online can one day be a reality. Mr. Miller works for Oracle (he made it clear that Oracle was not part of his presentation, but gave credence to his expertise in working with computer security and his extensive background in using technology safely and easily). KPV is a proponent of online voting. We were impressed with Mr. Miller’s presentation. You can watch it here (his testimony begins 32 minutes into this video).
We all realize that voting securely on the internet can be tricky to say the least. For example, Alaska’s Division of Elections website was compromised last year. No website is one hundred percent secure. However, secure online voting is an idea that could be used for voting in 3-5 years. Indeed, many of us use the internet daily for many things: from applying for our PFD, to banking, to doing our taxes and paying our bills. Online voting has the potential to make voting easier and more accessible, and as a result, more voters will vote.
Our group was pleasantly surprised to see that Senator Shower had looked at this online option for voting. Wouldn’t it be great to have a voting bill that makes voting easier, more secure and one that all parties could possibly agree on?
During the pandemic, many of the voting procedures were streamlined to allow easier access to voting, which did not result in any voter fraud. Remember every vote matters.
Alex Koplin has lived in Alaska for 32 years. He is a member of Kenai Peninsula Votes, a grassroots group of citizens who promote voting and inform voters about what is on the ballot. Their motto is: We don’t care who you vote for-but do vote.