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Voting & Elections

The Maui News: Ballots by mail: One less barrier to participation

Officials hope shift to mail-in ballots will bring in more voters to process. Election officials and political observers believe Hawaii’s new system of voting by mail will open the door to more voters — particularly the young and centrists — though the long-term effects on turnout and savings may not be clear until future elections.

KITV Island News: Education, security among concerns as Hawaii prepares for first all-mail election

While having an election entirely conducted by mail may be efficient, some political observers say the state has the tough task of explaining the process to voters.

Vote By Mail and Voter Service Centers Public Service Announcement Made by WAVE Youths in the Hawaii Kids Can Organization

This PSA was shot by the amazing, awesome, terrific WAVE Youths from the Hawaii Kids Can organization. The local Hawaii TV Station, Olelo, said, “The PSA has been submitted for airing on Olelo. It will air at random between our regularly scheduled programs.”

YouTube: Olelo Public Service Announcement on Hawaii Youth and Voting By Mail

This Common Cause Hawaii PSA made by our Hawaii Kids Can WAVE Youth about Vote By Mail! It is will be on Olelo’s OCM and its YouTube Channel!

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Column: Time for Hawaiians to stop being nonvoters, and to be heard

A 12 December 2019 OpEd calling for Hawaii's Native Hawaiian community to vote and pointing out that it will be made easier with Vote by Mail in 2020. It also advocates for automatic voter registration. This OpEd was written by noted Native Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Kokua Line: Voter’s signature visible on ballot-return envelope

The Kokua Line addresses, via a question and answer article, keeping a person’s signature secure on the vote by mail ballot.

Have you ever voted via mail-in ballot in a statewide election?

This is an on-line poll where the newspaper questions who has voted by mail. Both the results and the questions are very interesting!

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Editorial: Prepare voters for all-mail balloting

Hawaii leaders have been talking for years about the state’s transition to an all-voting-by-mail election system. This article contains an interview about this issue with Sandy Ma, the Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Government group raises alarm as state moves to all-mail voting

Common Cause Hawaii is urging election officials to open more than a handful of Voter Service Centers in Hawaii next year to ensure that all voters are able to vote in-person as the State for the first time transitions to all Vote By Mail.

Hawaii's Olelo TV Network: Video of Vote by Mail Info Brief presented to Hawaii State Legislators

This is a video of the 13 November 2019 Informational Briefing on the Vote by Mail initiative, presented to the Hawaii State Senate and House Judiciary Committees on 13 November 2019

Generations Magazine - Hawaii's Resource for Life: All Vote-By-Mail Comes to Hawaii - by Sandy Ma, Executive Director, Common Cause Hawaii

Starting with the 2020 primaries, all statewide elections in Hawai‘i will be conducted by mail, pursuant to Act 136, Session Laws of Hawai‘i 2019 (HB1248, CD1). This will be a big change for some Hawai‘i voters, especially those who are not accustomed to voting by absentee ballot.

Hawaii Public Radio website: Article on the Vote by Mail Info Brief to State Legislators

No More Hawaii Polling Places, Mainly Mail Ballots Next Year. What Could Go Wrong?

Hawaii Business Magazine: Government and Civic Engagement in Hawai‘i Need to Change

Part 2: How to Increase Hawai‘i’s Low Voter Turnout

There’s no silver bullet: Action is likely needed on several fronts to get more people to the polls though skeptics say some efforts may have little or no effect.

Ethics & Accountability

Honolulu Civil Beat - Suspension Of Hawaii’s Open Government Laws More Extreme Than Other States

Gov. David Ige has alarmed government watchdogs with his proclamations that shut the public out of public meetings and eliminates the release of public records.

“Democracy, accountability and transparency still matter during these crucial times,” said Sandy Ma, the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii. “So much is happening so quickly, and it needs to because we are in a crisis situation, but we also need to document what is happening for the future good so that we can look back and see what we did right and what we did wrong.”

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Editorial: Government must be open to scrutiny

The governor’s decision to suspend the state’s Sunshine Law, the requirement that government agencies conduct business in open meetings and with advance notice, as well as the law that makes government records open and available, could have consequences that the beleaguered public, distracted by other woes, has not imagined and must work to avoid.

It does appear that some agencies are making an effort to that end. Sandy Ma, executive director of the good-government nonprofit Common Cause Hawaii, noted that the state Ethics Commission has provided a call-in option for anyone wishing to “attend” the meeting, set for Friday, by teleconference. Another example: the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 has been livestreaming its hearings on how the state is dealing with the pandemic. That’s encouraging.

However, the governor’s order says only such access provisions may be made “at the sole discretion of the department or agency.” That should not be the case.

Common Cause Hawaii Email to the Hawaii Senate Committee on COVID-19

While Common Cause Hawaii commends the Hawaii State Senate’s formation of the Senate's special committee on COVID-19, we are unclear as to why the meetings are not open, transparent, and televised to the public on 'Ōlelo.

Honolulu Civil Beat: Don’t Keep The Public From Participating In Public Policy During A Crisis

Senate Bill 2038 would exempt boards from Hawaii’s Sunshine Law on meetings when emergencies like COVID-19 are in effect.

Honolulu Civil Beat: Honolulu Agrees To Post Financial Disclosures Online

The Honolulu City Clerk’s office said it would post financial disclosure records on its website after the city ethics commission received blowback for removing that information from its site.

Government accountability advocates had criticized the removal of this information. Sandy Ma of Common Cause Hawaii had called it “extraordinarily troubling.”

Honolulu Civil Beat: Honolulu Ethics Commission Scrubs Financial Disclosures From Website

Public records in which Honolulu officials disclose their business interests, real estate holdings and family ties are no longer posted on the Honolulu Ethics Commission’s website, and disclosures from past years have been deleted.

"It is extraordinarily troubling that the commission would make it harder for the public to access the records," said Sandy Ma, executive director of the government accountability nonprofit Common Cause Hawaii.

KHON2: Kauai Councilman Arthur Brun indicted for federal drug offenses

More legal trouble for Kauai Councilman Arthur Brun, who’s now been indicted for federal drug offenses. He was one of twelve people arrested in a sting operation. Brun faces more charges than any of the other defendants, including the most serious offenses like conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

“Mr. Brun should have to abide by the same laws too and we want to make sure that the people are represented and Mr. Brun is not distracted by the pending charges,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii.

Honolulu Civil Beat: Caldwell Took In $155,000+ From Territorial Bank in 2019

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell did well for himself last year.

In addition to his $186,432 city salary, he pulled in at least $155,638 from Territorial Savings Bank – a result of his earnings as a bank director and exercising stock options, according to his recently filed financial disclosure form. “We would like his full attention to be devoted to being mayor,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of the government accountability nonprofit Common Cause Hawaii.

Honolulu Civic Beat: Free Lunch From A Contractor Is Annual Tradition at Honolulu Hale

The Ethics Commission is considering a zero-tolerance policy on “tokens of aloha.” Honolulu ethics guidelines say city departments shouldn’t accept any gifts from those doing business with their agencies. That includes contractors.

Photos from the Impeachment Support Rally on Oahu on 17 December 2019

Some photos are shown here from this spirited event, co-sponsored by Common Cause Hawaii. Go here to our Facebook Page for more.

AP News: Gabbard faces heat back home for present vote on impeachment

Longshot presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is facing some heat in her heavily Democratic home state of Hawaii for voting “present” on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Common Cause Hawaii Executive Director, Sandy Ma, said Gabbard’s votes aren’t representative of the people in her district and added Gabbard “shamed herself.”

Honolulu Civil Beat: Why Corrupt Public Employees In Hawaii Keep Their Pensions

For those convicted of abusing public office, the pension payments don’t stop at the guilty verdict.

Honolulu Civil Beat: Lawmakers’ Financial Disclosures Don’t Always Paint A Complete Picture

Lawmakers financial disclosures do not provide much detail or precise depictions of legislators’ financial interests.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: David Shapiro: $350M Aloha Stadium plan has flies on it already

Common Cause and the League of Women Voters last week awarded the 2019 Legislature its “Rusty Scalpel” award for using the deceitful gut-and-replace tactic to provide $350 million for a new stadium

Critics Question Former Council Chair’s Ties To North Shore Project

Some residents ask whether campaign contributions and a job factored into Ernie Martin’s support for a controversial Pupukea project.

The Maui News: County paid for council members, staff to stay at Wailea hotel for HSAC

Six Maui County Council members and six executive assistants stayed at the Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott Maui during a conference in June and were reimbursed in public funds to the tune of just over $11,000, according to documents obtained from the county Finance Department.

Money & Influence

Honolulu Civil Beat: Aloha Stadium Deal Panned By Watchdog Groups

Common Cause Hawaii and the League of Women Voters of Hawaii decry gut and replace bill.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Councilwoman’s use of city funds to pay PR firm is scrutinized

Honolulu City Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi is using her taxpayer-funded Council contingency account to pay a Honolulu public relations and advertising firm for community and media outreach and marketing.

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