A measure that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls got its first hearing on Thursday.
Rep. Bob Lynn, a Republican from Anchorage, sponsored the bill, and he views it as a simple way of preventing voter fraud.
“We need photo ID to buy booze, to enter a federal building, at the airport, for some banking operations, to drive your car, or to get a passport, to buy cigarettes, for certain test taking, at some workplaces, to enter a federal building, and more,” Lynn says.
If a person doesn’t have photo ID available, they would have show two alternate forms of identification, like a birth certificate or tribal organization card. A person could also be okayed to vote if they are recognized by two election officials. If a voter doesn’t meet any of these requirements, then they have to cast a questioned ballot.
During the hearing, the director of the Alaska Division of Elections answered questions about the mechanics of the bill and the number of cases of voter fraud that Alaska had seen. Gail Fenumiai said the state had experienced very few cases, and that those would not have been prevented by the proposed law.
Questions were also raised about the effect the proposal would have on the Bush and whether it would be constitutional, with representatives from the Association of Village Council Presidents and the American Civil Liberties Union speaking against the bill.
Rep. Lynn Gattis, a Republican, also commented that some of her constituents from Wasilla have raised concern about the bill.
“It’s not uncommon for them to go to the polls, going to people that they know in our small community. Either knowing somebody or pulling out a fishing license or a hunting license, but not necessarily traveling two piece of ID. They just find this very, very cumbersome, especially since we don’t really have that problem of voter fraud,” Gattis says.
Nearly a dozen states currently have photo ID laws in effect.
Lynn introduced a similar bill during the last legislature, but did not push for it in committee.