Hawaii proposes conducting elections by mail

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November 27, 2012


By Jennifer Springer

HONOLULU, Hawaii: Governor Neil Abercrombie announced on November 26 that he will be proposing legislation that would move Hawaii toward a mail-in system, which would do away with the traditional system of in-person voting on election day.[1][2]

"I think a mail-in ballot is a sensible thing to do in our state, particularly with our multiple islands and remote electoral precincts, etc. I think it makes good sense and I think more and more people are doing it. The proof of that is in so-called absentee ballots...If almost half of those voting right now are already voting early, then why not maximize the opportunity to vote early by making it as easy as possible, and the mail-in ballot seems to me is just a sensible, cost-effective way," Abercrombie said to reporters in a press conference addressing election concerns.[3]

State elections officials have estimated taxpayers would spend approximately about the same amount of money with a new mail-in system.[2] While the state would save money by not having to hire precinct workers or rent polling places, mail-in ballots require postage costs and more handling and preparation of the mail-in ballots, according to Rex Quidilla a spokesman for the state's Office of Elections.[2]

Abercrombie is also asking Attorney General David Louie to investigate the Office of Elections and the circumstances that resulted in a shortage of paper ballots at many Oahu polling places during the November 6 general election.[2] More than 20 polling places on the island of Oahu ran out of paper ballots, forcing long waits for the few available machines.[1]

He says the shortage is a serious problem that has tarnished the election process and eroded public confidence.[2][1]

The state elections commission will discuss the general election during a meeting on November 27, 2012. The meeting was originally scheduled for December, but was moved up after widespread concerns after issues with the general election on November 6, 2012.[4]

Oregon and Washington already conduct entirely mail-in elections.[3]

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