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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

PFD Automatic Voter Registration simplifies voting for all Alaskans

By Dan Ortiz


August 09, 2016
Tuesday AM

Alaska is in the bottom 20% per capita of registered voters. Now, more than ever, Alaskans should exercise their right to vote. In my previous profession as a social studies/current issue teacher at Kayhi, I tried to instill in my students the value of citizen participation within the communities that they live. One of the most significant ways that this can be achieved is by simply voting.

For many Alaskans, voter registration is not as straightforward as we might assume. Military families, Alaskans working in resource development, and young Alaskans may move multiple times in a calendar year and have dozens of new forms to fill out each time they move. Similarly, people living in rural communities are often cut off from the DMVs where urban Alaskans usually update their registration. For these reasons, Alaska has one of the lowest rates of voter registration and voter registration accuracy in the country.

This November, PFD Automatic Voter Registration will be on the General Election Ballot. The proposition is a simple update to our voting system that would allow Alaskan voters to be registered to vote when they apply for a dividend. Those who do not wish to register to vote can opt out of voter registration, and simply apply for their dividend as normal. If the proposition passes, then when a citizen files for the PFD and gives permission to be registered to vote, the Division of Elections will receive that information, automatically register new voters, and update addresses for current voters.

The proposition streamlines the voter registration process: by using the PFD’s existing strict secure application, Alaska can reduce voter fraud while saving costs on processing. Second, the updated system saves money by reducing the costs of printing and distributing voter registration forms - cutting costs is particularly important considering the fiscal situation the state is in. Finally, being that over 90% of Alaska residents annually apply for the PFD, the majority of Alaskans can be registered to vote, strengthening our democracy for the better.

I support this simple update to our voter registration system. With a small change, we can ensure that Alaskans who care about their state can have a voice in their government - through their vote.

Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received August 04, 2016 - Published August 09, 2016

About: Ortiz is an independent member of the Alaska House of Representatives, who has since 2015 represented the 36th District. He is the only independent in the Alaska State Legislature.



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