PFD voter program sends first mailers this week

Thanks to a ballot measure approved last year, about 75,000 Alaskans will receive a mailer from the Alaska Division of Elections this week.

The mailer will ask whether those Alaskans want to opt out of a new voter registration system that automatically uses information from the Permanent Fund Dividend Division.

Under the system, eligible voters’ addresses in the Division of Elections database are compared with addresses in the Permanent Fund Dividend database. If someone is listed in the dividend database but not in the voter database, the listing in the voter database is automatically updated.

Felons, non-citizens and other ineligible people are not included in the program.

The mailers going out this week inform voters that their address has been updated and give them a chance to cancel the process.

“If a recipient does not send back the opt-out mailer or contact the (Division of Elections) within 30 days after it was sent, then they will be processed as either a newly registered voter or their voter registration record will be updated with the current address provided to PFD during the 2017 application process,” said Josie Bahnke, director of the Division of Elections.

By phone, Bahnke said about 25,000 Alaskans will be added to the state’s voter rolls as a result of the new program. Another 50,000 people will have their home addresses updated.

If a voter doesn’t opt out of the program, he or she will receive a new voter registration card in the mail within six weeks. That card will list new voters as “undeclared” voters when it comes to party affiliation.

This automatic program was created with a 2016 ballot initiative. That initiative passed muster by almost a 2:1 margin. There were 197,702 yes votes and 108,467 no votes. The PFD Automatic Voter Registration law became effective on March 1, 2017.

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• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


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