My Turn: Both sides agree: Ballot Measure 1 is a good idea

We like good ideas. We may cancel out each other’s votes on everything from anti-smoking legislation to Daylight Saving Time, but differing political philosophies aside, a good idea is a good idea — and we both like good ideas.

 

We particularly like ideas that streamline government and achieve cost efficiencies. We like reducing paperwork in everyone’s lives.

We like the Permanent Fund Dividend’s Automatic Voter Registration ballot initiative. We think you will, too.

PFD Automatic Voter Registration is a simple, elegant idea: When you register for the PFD, you get registered to vote. One form knocks out two bureaucratic paperwork processes! Efficiency.

Ballot Measure 1, PFD Automatic Voter Registration, makes good sense for many reasons.

PFD Automatic Voter Registration is great for democracy. This simple change is estimated to add 70,000 currently eligible but unregistered Alaskans to the voter rolls, particularly Alaska Natives and those serving in our military, who are currently underrepresented.

PFD Automatic Voter Registration makes good financial sense, and is good for the State of Alaska budget — and if you haven’t noticed, we need help cutting costs anywhere we can. By systematizing voter registration, the initiative will reduce paperwork and clerical time. By bringing voter registration rolls up to date and more accurate, the initiative will dramatically reduce the tens of thousands of question ballots from every election, which are presently painstakingly processed by hand.

The Division of Elections has ascribed a $900,000 fiscal note to the initiative, but the vast majority of this cost is associated with an elections database upgrade that needed to happen anyway. DOE has acknowledged this sunk cost and accordingly reduced the estimated implementation cost by two-thirds.

Once you take into account the efficiencies and savings, Northern Economics, the Anchorage-based economics consultancy, projects $300,000 in annual net savings. We like efficiencies and we like anything that lets us cut the budget by $300,000.

PFD Automatic Voter Registration is great for cross-referencing and voter security. Right now, security protocols are way higher for PFD (getting a thousand dollars of free money should have some vetting, right?) than they are for voter registration. The PFD Automatic Voter Registration upgrades voter registration verification standards to those already in place for PFD registration.

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and former Sen. Mark Begich, support PFD Automatic Voter Registration — an unlikely three musketeers.

The Alaska Federation of Natives, League of Women Voters, British Petroleum, The Alaska Center, Anchorage Economic Develop Corp., AFL-CIO, and our 12 Alaska Native corporations all support PFD Automatic Voter Registration. We’re glad to join such good company.

It’s been a tough year in Alaska politics. We’d like to find some common ground and do something we can all agree is good for Alaska.

We’re planning to vote yes on and support Ballot Measure 1: PFD Automatic Voter Registration. We hope you do, too.

• Reps. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, and Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, serve in the Alaska House of Representatives.

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