Despite the Democratic Party’s consistent dominance of Hawaiian politics, Hawaii could improve voting rights in the state, particularly by implementing automatic voter registration and expanding polling hours.
Hawaii’s 2019 legislative session has concluded, and Mail-In Voting has been passed by the legislature. Stay tuned for how you can take action to expand voting rights in Hawaii next session.
Automatic Voter Registration- Automatic voter registration is not implemented in Hawaii. A 2018 bill, SB 2210, sought to rectify that situation, but did not pass.
RECOMMENDATION: HB 1217 and SB 412, which would implement automatic voter registration in Hawaii, did not pass during the 2019 legislative session. HB 1544, also proposed this session, would have further expanded automatic voter registration, but died in committee.
Online Voter Registration- Online registration is provided for Hawaii residents, with voters as young as age 16 able to pre-register.
Same-Day Registration- Same-day registration is available, having first been implemented in 2018.
Voter ID Requirement- While no photo identification is required to vote in Hawaii, voters must provide some form of identification, including a utility bill, driver’s license, state ID, bank statement, or other government issued document.
RECOMMENDATION: Hawaii should ease voter identification requirements further to minimize the suppressive effects of such a requirement.
Early Voting- Early voting is provided in Hawaii. Early voting begins ten days prior to Election Day and concludes on the Saturday before Election Day.
No Excuse Absentee- Voters may vote absentee without providing an excuse in Hawaii.
Mail-In Voting- Mail-in voting is provided in the context of absentee voting.
RECOMMENDATION: HB 1248, which establishes mail-in voting in Hawaii starting with the 2020 election, passed both Houses of the legislature in 2019 and has now been signed into law by the Governor.
Felon Re-Enfranchisement- Voting rights are immediately restored for returning citizens upon the completion of their prison sentence. The returning citizen must re-register.
RECOMMENDATION: HB 1506 and SB 1503, which would have repealed Hawaii’s disenfranchisement laws entirely, did not pass during the 2019 legislative session.
Voter Bill of Rights- While Hawaii has good information for voters provided on their Department of Elections website, the state does not have a clearly published voter bill of rights.
RECOMMENDATION: Implement a voter bill of rights, place on appropriate websites, and provide directly to voters.
Polling Hours- Hawaii has some of the shortest voting hours in the country. Polls are open from 7 am to 6 pm on Election Day for a total of 11 hours of voting time.
RECOMMENDATION: Extend voting hours to 14 hours on Election Day, consistent with leading states.
Wait Time Service Standard- Like other states, Hawaii does not have a wait time service standard for voters. With a very short polling time, making sure that voters can vote efficiently is of paramount importance.
RECOMMENDATION: Implement and monitor a
wait time service standard for polling places in Hawaii.
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