Automatic voter registration won’t change PFD application this year

 PFD Checks
PFD Checks (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 2, 2016 at 3:25 PM AKST
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The 25-30,000 Alaskans who apply for their Permanent Fund Dividends on January 1st are going to notice a difference in the first hours of 2017.

In previous years, the application has gone live at midnight, but this year, you won’t be able to apply for your PFD until 9 a.m.

“It requires our entire programming staff to be here and to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch,” said PFD director Sara Race. “The biggest reason (for the change) is to make sure that we're able to meet our business needs.”

The change will also provide relief for some staff members. “We have a couple of individuals that have been with our division for quite some time who haven’t seen a New Years in quite some time,” Race said.

Come next year, there will be an even bigger change to the application, though the public may not notice it nearly as much. Last month, voters passed a ballot measure that will automatically register PFD applicants to vote.

“I think that really from the public's perspective they won't really feel much of a difference,” Race said Friday. The biggest difference, according to Race, will be sharing information between the PFD office and the Division of Elections. “So we'll be working with them to make sure that the data elements are required of the voter registration are properly transferred from one division to the other.”

However, Race and the people behind the push for the ballot measure don’t see the application itself changing much.

“The PFD application as it stands works perfectly for this process,” said John-Henry Heckendorn, campaign manager for the initiative. He says that next week, some of the people involved in the push will meet with agencies like the PFD office and the Division of Elections to figure out how the measure will be implemented.

“The goal here was always to make our government work smarter while also saving money,” Heckendorn said. “So that's what we're going to make sure happens.”