A ballot initiative in the upcoming election would make it so that people can register to vote while signing up for their Permanent Fund Dividends.
Anchorage Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar says he started Ballot Initiative One alongside a group of other Alaskans.
“The ballot initiative was inspired by efforts in other parts of the country where they have done DMVs and that kind of automatic registration, but we had this idea, just this group of Alaskans, we realized that there was this much more universal, more secure, more accurate system in the PFD, and it’s sort of the perfect tool to which to also have voter registration.”
He says when a person signs up for a PFD, they would have the option to register to vote, which Dunbar explains would save the person the time invested in signing up to vote separately and furthermore increase efficiency.
“It’s designed to register more people to vote, but also to register them in the right place accurately, and it’s also a very secure system because the PFD division actually does fraud detection because there’s real money at stake, so the PFD actually does fraud detection, so again it’ll not only make it more accurate, but also more secure.”
Dunbar says it would also give Alaskans confidence about where they’re registered to vote and that they are registered. Furthermore, he says the initiative will not affect PFD eligibility or register people to vote who are ineligible.
He says the coalition that developed the initiative collected 42,000 signatures to get it on the ballot, and he hopes it will make Alaska a national leader in voter registration.
As far as the cost, Dunbar says the voter pamphlet overstates the number behind the initiative and it’ll save the government money.
“We think it’ll cost about half a million less than what the department of elections said it would cost, because that was the cost for the database upgrade that again was already going to happen. It’ll be in the several hundred thousand dollar range and again, that’s not including the cost savings that we think this will have long term from reduced man hours for processing paper applications.”
Dunbar says voters will have a chance to support the ballot initiative at the general election on November 8, and if it passes, it should go into effect as early as next year.