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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

RE: Voter Turnout
By Mark Stopha


July 30, 2012

I don't think Ken Lewis's idea of having to vote in order to receive a PFD is unfair or bad at all. In fact, I've had a similar idea, using the power of the PFD without spending any of it to improve things in Alaska. It would change getting a PFD from a right to a privledge - like hunting and fishing.

1. Education - you get your PFD until you're 18. After that, you have to be in high school, or have a high school diploma or GED to get it. And as added incentive, if you don't get your diploma at 18 but do at some later date, you will get your PFD plus the previous year's PFD as a reward.

2. Voting. Once you're 18 with your high school diploma in hand, now all you need to do to get your PFD is to vote in the state election. There may need to be an amendment to the voting rules allowing someone to "vote" with a blank ballot if they don't like any of their choices, but that is a minor hurdle. With so many easy ways to vote (by mail, absentee in person, etc.) besides election day, there's really no excuse not to vote anymore. Local elections might have to be lined up with state elections for it to work at the local level - again, not an insurmountable hurdle.

OF COURSE, there will be exceptions for people with disabilities to get their PFD who can't vote or complete high school, etc, but that could be worked out and would be a small minority.

3. Law enforcement. PFD is withheld for a first offense DWI. PFD is lost forever for a second DWI.

Just some random thoughts on using the power of the PFD without spending it to improve education and public participation in the voting process and reducing crime.

Mark Stopha
Juneau, AK

Received July 30, 2012 - Published July 30, 2012

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