Ballot Measure 1 competes for attention with Trump, Clinton, Stock and Murkowski

Ballot Measure 1 competes for attention with Trump, Clinton, Stock and Murkowski

Alaska’s political candidates are flocking to Fairbanks this week for the Alaska Federation of Natives annual conference. Attendees will hear from those vying for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and the Alaska Legislature.

They’ll also hear from those backing Ballot Measure 1, the sole voter intiative on this fall’s general-election ballot.

“I think this is a step in the right direction, both toward a more efficient government and a democratic system that’s more accessible,” said John-Henry Heckendorn, the Anchorage-based campaign manager for the ballot measure.

If approved by voters on Nov. 8, Ballot Measure 1 would allow Alaskans to register to vote when they apply for their PFD each year. Formally, the measure allows the Alaska Division of Elections and the Permanent Fund Dividend Division to share information.

Informally, it would create a small online button on the annual PFD application. Click it, and the Division of Elections would register you as a voter or update your registration with your latest address.

“Really, we’re advocating for a small procedural change … that is a first step and lays the groundwork for future (voting) modernization efforts,” Heckendorn said by phone.

In summer 2015, the Alaska Division of Elections estimated about 70,000 new voters would be added to Alaska’s rolls under the proposal.

Other estimates have stretched between 35,000 and 113,000 — the initiative may also remove dead and ineligible voters from the rolls.

“If somebody has moved out of Alaska and registers somewhere else, they’re taken off our voter rolls,” Heckendorn said.

Heckendorn typically works with Democratic campaigns and initiatives, but Ballot Measure 1 has the support of Republicans as well as Democrats. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, each endorsed the proposal earlier this month.

Murkowski, in a prepared statement, said it “improves the registration system and reduces opportunities for voter fraud” while making registering more convenient.

You have to look to find someone against the initiative — even the Alaska Division of Elections couldn’t find someone willing to write in opposition for the state’s voter pamphlet.

Paul Jenkins, editor of AnchorageDailyPlanet.com, has offered perhaps the widest-distributed opposition to the measure.

In a column published last weekend in the Alaska Dispatch News, he suggested that the cost of implementing the measure — $900,000 up front and as much as $300,000 per year — isn’t worth it to register about 70,000 people who are “too uninformed or disinterested to register” under existing programs.

He suggests that the measure “appears aimed simply at advancing the political left’s agenda.”

It appears, however, that the $900,000 cost estimate initially provided by the Division of Elections may have included a now-completed computer server upgrade.

According to state records, the elections division has spent more than $500,000 on an upgrade completed in time for this year’s elections.

Election Day is Nov. 8. Early voting begins Oct. 24.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Lt. Cmdr Wryan Webb)
Yakutat-bound charter flight missing from Juneau

Flight departed from Juneau on Saturday with three people aboard, according to U.S. Coast Guard.

President Biden at the White House on July 3. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Joe Biden drops out of race, scrambling the campaign for the White House

Withdraws under pressure from fellow Democrats; endorses Vice President Kamala Harris to take on Trump.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, July 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Buttons on display at a campaign event Monday, July 8, 2024, in Juneau, urge supporters to vote against Ballot Measure 2, the repeal of Alaska’s current election system. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Ranked-choice repeal measure awaits signature count after Alaska judge’s ruling

Signatures must be recounted after judge disqualifies almost 3,000 names, citing state law violations.

The offices of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Juneau are seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska demographers predict population drop, a switch from prior forecasts

For decades, state officials have forecast major population rises, but those haven’t come to pass.

Neil Steininger, former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, testifies before the House Finance Committee at the Alaska State Capitol in January of 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neil Steininger, former budget director for Gov. Dunleavy, seeking District 1 Juneau Assembly seat

Downtown resident unopposed so far for open seat; deadline to file for local races is Monday.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

Most Read