A bill adding new voter identification requirements could go to the full House before the Legislature adjourns Sunday.
House Bill 3 is strongly opposed by a number of Southeast leaders, including lawmakers and Native officials.
It passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. As of today, it was in the Rules Committee, waiting to be scheduled for the House floor.
At a recent hearing, Alaska Native Brotherhood Grand Camp President Bill Martin said a photo-ID requirement could keep people from casting ballots.
“There are many people who are my age group who actually do not have ID cards. The ID card is not required when we go for health care at SEAHC or to vote in our tribal elections, because we have our own cards with no picture on them,” he says.
Tlingit-Haida Central Council, the House Bush caucus and some other groups also oppose the legislation.
Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 70 President Jan Trigg went a step further. She said the measure discriminates against rural Alaskans and others.
“It creates an impediment to the most democratic practice as citizens. The homeless, the home-bound, returning veterans, the elderly, people of color and college students would be vulnerable to this new law,” she says.
The voter-ID bill was praised by Travis Lewis, vice president of the group Alaskans for Alaska.
He said weak laws have inflated voter rolls in his home town of Elfin Cove. And he said proper identification is easy to get.
“As a veteran, I want to say that when I got out of the military, I had all kinds of ID on me. It’s pretty hard to understand in this day and age how a person could not have proper identification,” he says.
Sponsor Bob Lynn of Anchorage said his bill gives voters several options, including presenting no ID and casting a questioned ballot.
“Nothing in this bill would restrict anybody’s who is currently registered to vote and motivated to vote from voting, wherever they live in the state, whether it’s an urban area, a rural area or on an island or wherever,” he says.
No companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate, so the measure will likely carry over to next year.