Senior Voice -

PFD voter registration is common sense

 


We face difficult financial and political challenges in Alaska, but our state legislature is dysfunctional. We need to do more than sit on the sidelines and complain that politicians aren’t doing their jobs. We need and can do more to fix our government. We can increase and empower our citizens so that, together, we transform our grievances into real solutions.

Alaskans from across the state have started that transformation with the PFD Voter Registration ballot initiative. This is a common-sense, money-saving proposal that increases the number of eligible Alaskan voters. We believe that this would make our government work more efficiently and effectively.

I have voted all my life. In years past, I worked in the South to register voters. This was during a time where exercising that constitutional right might cost you your job, your church being burnt to the ground, or even your life. We don’t face those barriers today, however, we need to remember and honor our past. We need to involve our friends, family, and grandchildren to get more involved in the government and vote.

You may be a Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Green, Undeclared or Independent – at the end of the day, our democracy works best when every citizen’s voice is heard and every vote is counted. But, you can’t vote if you are not registered.

On November 8, the PFD Voter Registration initiative will be on the General Election ballot. PFD Voter Registration is a common-sense solution that makes a small change to our election system. A Yes vote will simplify the voter registration system, and save state government money at the same time.

It’s two birds with one stone: if you are eligible to vote, then when you sign up for your PFD, your voter registration gets automatically updated as well. If you do not qualify for a PFD or if you prefer the traditional method, then paper voter registration forms remain an option. Also, voter registrars and the DMV will still be able to provide voter registration forms in-person.

This is how this will this work: If the initiative passes, the state will combine the PFD application with voter registration. The improved PFD Voter Registration process will start for the 2017 PFD application, starting January 1, 2017. First, when you fill out the PFD, the information you submit to the state will also be used for your voter information. Second, while your PFD gets processed by the state, the Division of Elections will simultaneously update your address, guaranteeing that in November, you’ll be voting in the correct district.

Third, the Division of Elections will send you mail permitting to either declare a political party, or opt-out of the voter registration process.

If you don’t want to be registered for whatever reason, you can easily opt out. But for the vast majority of people, this will just make life simpler.

How does PFD Voter Registration save money? Well, the majority of Alaskans use the online PFD application. When they complete the online PFD application, they will also get registered to vote – and, they will not fill out an extra piece of paper. Fewer physical forms will be needed, saving the State money from printing and distribution costs. And we will not be paying municipal clerks countless hours to manually input your handwritten voter information - it will already be in the state’s electronic system.

Most importantly, it makes voting much more secure and accurate. The PFD application is more strictly enforced than our present voter registration process. By using the same strict application to register voters as well, these voters are guaranteed to be citizens or face criminal sanctions. The Division of Elections will receive updated voter information from your annual PFD application rather than having to rely on stored addresses that have not been updated in years.

PFD Voter Registration makes voting more convenient and reliable with a common-sense solution. With more Alaskan voters in the system, we weaken the influence of outside interests on our legislators. This small change to our voter registration system could reap huge benefits for Alaska.

Our democracy needs more registered voters across all ages. Regardless of what party you are, everyone who is legally eligible to vote should be registered to vote. With a Yes vote this November for the PFD Voter Registration initiative, we can unify our community, and make our voices count.

On November 8, please vote YES on the PFD Voter Registration initiative.

Gordon Glaser is a member of OPAG, Commissioner on the Alaska Commission on Aging, and previous president/current member of the Board of Directors of the Anchorage Senior Activity Center. These views are his own and do not represent the position of these organizations.

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