What others say: Alaska must close voting loophole

  • Wednesday, November 12, 2014 5:02pm
  • Opinion

Alaska has a voting loophole big enough to cause problems. State officials and members of the Legislature must close it to safeguard our electoral process.

The problem is this: You don’t have to physically live here to vote here.

To be clear, we’re not talking about snowbirds who migrate south each winter and then return, students studying Outside or military personnel who are deployed overseas or transferred to a new assignment.

No, this is something different. According to voter registration requirements, someone can become an Alaska voter after just 30 days. If they move elsewhere, have the “intent” to return and don’t register to vote elsewhere, they may continue voting in Alaska elections. Forever.

Our state has stricter regulations for who gets a Permanent Fund Dividend than for voting.

Residents who permanently move to another state are no longer residents. They don’t pay local taxes or volunteer with local groups, and they are far more likely to be uninformed about local and statewide issues than those who physically live here.

In Washington, a voter must be a resident of the state for at least 30 days before the election. In Oregon, current residency also is required. Alaska’s voter requirements appear unique, but not in a good way.

Outside groups are willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to sway our elections. Tens of thousands of voters mail in ballots each year. Statewide races can be swung by just a few thousand votes. These are the ingredients for manipulation — even if no one has yet used the recipe and we don’t think it will be used, the threat is there.

Regardless of this loophole’s ability to influence elections, it simply isn’t right. It reduces the ability of local people to affect local issues.

We don’t know where the ballots are coming from, how long some voters have been absent from the state, or whether an Outside interest group is willing to abuse Alaska’s voting loophole to decide an election. We’d rather not find out.

Alaska should align its voter eligibility requirements to follow its PFD requirements. Those who don’t spend enough time in Alaska to qualify will still have the right to vote, it just won’t be here. The rest of us who have a stake in the outcome should be the ones to decide.

— Juneau Empire

Nov. 9

More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

t
Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Most Read