According to Alaska's Lt. Governor, Fran Ulmer, the 49th state will never have the issues that surfaced in Florida during the last election. "In Alaska we accepted the notion that we needed new technology three years ago. We got rid of our punch card ballot system and moved to an optical scanning Acuvote. So statewide we have state of the art election equipment and don't have to rely on chads," Ulmer told the Soldotna Rotary Club last week. The other major difference is that Alaska has a statewide system with one set of rules on how votes get counted or re-counted. In many states such as Florida it's a local county by county system and set of regulations. The major challenge facing Alaska regarding its elections will be re-districting now that the Y2K census numbers have been released from the federal census bureau. "The 2002 election will be a very busy one. Potentially all 60 legislators as well as Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. Representative, and one U.S. Senatorial seat will all be on the ballot because of re-districting," said Ulmer.
The Lt. Governor also spoke to a gathering sponsored by the League of Women Voters in Kenai. Education is a primary issue of debate in the legislature as lawmaker's head into the last half of the session. The issues of funding for education and the exit exam are at center stage. "The Governor is pushing hard for an increase in both the foundation formula for funding education and support for the quality schools initiative for students to prepare for testing. There is no doubt that testing and the expectation that students will have mastered a certain body of knowledge are appropriate. The question, however, is whether we're ready for this test yet, or whether we need a few more years to prepare the high-stakes exit exam," said Ulmer.
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