What others say: Help more Alaskans vote

  • Monday, April 13, 2015 7:59pm
  • Opinion

Can we agree that having more Alaskans vote is a good thing?

Almost universally, higher voter turnout results in moderation. As the thought goes, a candidate must tack toward the center in order to appeal to the most voters. Voting patterns typically follow a bell curve — few extremists at the fringes and most people at the center.

A candidate too far to the left or right will never garner more votes than a candidate in the middle — if turnout is high.

The situation changes when turnout is low. Those who occupy the fringes of the political spectrum tend to be passionate, active voters. If the center does not hold, things fall apart. Without strong participation by voters in the center, the radical fringe has a better chance of seeing its candidate elected.

Having more voters means more stability, and the first step to having more voters is making it easy for them to register.

Two bills in the Alaska Legislature — one in the House and one in the Senate — promise changes in state law that would make it easier for Alaskans to register to vote.

Senate Bill 93, sponsored by Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, and House Bill 95, sponsored by five House members, would allow Alaskans to register as late as Election Day.

Same-day voter registration is the law in 10 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Voters simply present a driver’s license at the polling station, and they’re permitted to vote. Different states use different ways to deter fraud and keep people from voting multiple times per day. In states with real-time access to the voter database, fraud is easy to detect.

Even without real-time access, Iowa and New Hampshire use mailings after Election Day to detect fraud and provide ways to prosecute offenders.

It is unfortunate, as we enter the final week of the Alaska Legislature’s regular session, that neither SB 93 or HB 95 have received even a single hearing.

There are many matters before the Alaska Legislature, but we believe lawmakers should find time to improve the basic foundation of democracy — voting.

— Juneau Empire,

April 12