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Sludge.com - February 28, 2024 - Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Comprehensive Public Campaign Finance Program

A major bill to expand the public campaign financing system offered in state elections passed the Hawaii Senate unanimously and awaits action in the House. The bill, called Clean Elections by a coalition backing it, would establish what it calls a “comprehensive” public campaign financing option in the state, meaning it would aim to provide candidates enough money to be competitive without needing additional funds.

Common Cause Hawaii, a nonpartisan good government group, is a leading member of the Clean Elections Hawaiʻi Coalition that has been mobilizing Hawaii residents and policy researchers to submit written testimony to help the measure pass the legislature.

“It is important for anyone, especially an elected official who says they believe in expanding access to democracy, to support public campaign financing,” said Camron Hurt, program manager of Common Cause Hawaii.

USA Today - February 18, 2024 - Hawaii has a voter enthusiasm problem, could publicly funded campaigns help?

Hawaii taxpayers could soon find themselves footing a $30 million bill to fund state political campaigns. Could this initiative breathe new life into local elections across the islands by ensuring more diverse candidates? Several lawmakers, activists and residents say the answer is a resounding yes.

The current campaign finance system in Hawaii is seen as favoring a small group of affluent donors, who often gain undue access to candidates and officials, according to the bill. Despite recent reforms like universal mail-in voting, voter turnout is among the nation’s lowest. During the last presidential election, Hawaii ranked 48among all 50 states heading to the polls.

Common Cause Hawaii’s program manager, Camron Hurt, emphasized the need for more comprehensive changes to make Hawaii’s elections free from outside influence, more competitive and more popular.

USA Today - February 07, 2024 - Hawaii looks to combat AI-generated deepfakes and disinformation ahead of 2024 elections

Hawaii is the latest in more than a dozen states to introduce legislation to combat the threat AI-generated content and deep fakes can pose to political campaigns – either by pushing to disclose when content isn’t real or enforcing outright bans. “The purpose of this legislation is to combat political misinformation because we want to safeguard the integrity of our state elections here by preventing the spread of deceptive and fraudulent deepfakes, which will erode the public’s trust in government,” State Rep. Trish La Chica (D, Waipio-Mililani) said.

The legislation has also received support from non-profit pro-democracy groups such as Public Citizen and Common Cause Hawaii. Camron Hurt, program manager for Common Cause Hawaii, called the threat of AI deepfakes “a big issue for democracy right now.”

“The cat’s out of the bag, technology has outpaced our laws. But now we must catch up and it’s important that we spearhead and that we help lead that charge and make sure that harmful AI deep fakes and alike are removed from any way of being in our elections,” Hurt said.

Honolulu Civil Beat - January 11, 2024 - Full Public Financing Of Elections Is Being Revived At Hawaii Legislature

State Sen. Karl Rhoads will resurrect a bill that would establish a comprehensive campaign financing system intended to help attract a more diverse pool of political candidates. The system would give grants to qualifying candidates who are able to demonstrate sufficient support from voters. If a candidate for the Hawaii House of Representatives, for example, can find 200 contributors to donate $5 each to their campaign, the state would kick in $50,000.

Backers of the so-called “clean elections” bill describe it as major campaign finance reform.

Rhoads spoke about the bill Wednesday at a forum at the Capitol sponsored by the Clean Elections Hawaii Coalition, which says it represents dozens of local organizations working to advance “a pro-democracy agenda in our islands and help end the corrupting influence of big money on our politics.” The groups include Common Cause Hawaii, which has been at the forefront of “good government” initiatives at the Legislature.


Honolulu Civil Beat - September 03, 2023 - What Does Hawaii Have In Common With These Red States? A Fear Of Direct Democracy

Unhappy that the majority of voters don’t always agree with them, mainland political conservatives are going after a new enemy: direct democracy.

In the process, they’re bringing new attention to the citizens initiative process that allows voters in many states to go over the heads of their elected officials and place issues directly onto the ballot.

Hawaii, after all, is the only Western state that does not allow statewide voter initiatives in any form.

There was a push to establish statewide initiatives, referendums and recalls during the last constitutional convention in 1978. A key proponent was the good-government organization Common Cause Hawaii.

Honolulu Civil Beat - July 04, 2022 - Hawaii Will Add A Few Voter Centers For This Year’s Primary. Are More Needed?

Good government groups are again calling for more in-person voting sites. But elections officials say resources limit how many sites each county can manage.

Thousands of voters who wanted to cast their votes in-person on Election Day in November 2020 found themselves waiting for hours in long lines outside Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale. That was the year Hawaii switched to all-mail voting and opened just eight in-person voting locations across the islands. The long wait times spurred calls for additional voter service centers ahead of the 2022 elections. The Legislature cleared the way for that last year. Now, Oahu will get two more voter centers in Wahiawa and Kaneohe while Maui will get another center in Hana. But the Big Island is still sticking with its voter centers in Kona and Hilo. There won’t be any additional centers on Kauai either.

Common Cause Hawaii is asking for additional voter centers on Oahu in Waianae, Nanakuli, Ewa Beach, Pearl City, Laie and Waimanalo; on Maui in Lahaina, Kihei and Makawao; on Kauai in Poipu and Anahola; and on Hawaii island in Pahoa, Waimea, Volcano and Honokaa. Sandy Ma, CCHI’s Executive Director, said she’s recommending those locations based on distance to the closest voting center and the likelihood that residents in those areas vote. She said that districts with traditionally low turnout could benefit from having a voter center in the community.

Common Cause Hawaii also based its recommendations on the density of Native Hawaiian populations in a given area. Hawaiians have grown as a political force, but the communities in which they live often see low voter turnout, particularly areas on Oahu’s West Side. Waianae had the lowest voter turnout overall in the 2020 general election.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - May 11, 2022 - Ranked-choice voting set to be used in some special elections

Hawaii is set to use ranked-choice voting for the first time after state law‑ makers passed a bill that would test the voting method in certain winner-take-all special elections.

Senate Bill 2162 moved out of the state Legislature last week and would be used only during federal contests outside of regularly scheduled primary and general elections along with County Council elections for vacant seats. These special elections are triggered when elected officials leave office before the end of their terms.

The proposed law would skip this year’s elections and become effective Jan. 1.

One of the other hoped-for outcomes of ranked-choice voting is that it would encourage more people to run for office, giving voters more options. “We would like more people running for office,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii. “We would like ranked-choice voting to be used when there are more people running for office, to increase candidate diversity and to give people more choice in our elections.”

Think Tank Hawaii - Community Matters - May 03, 2022 - Voting Bills in the 2022 Hawaii Legislature

If They Pass They Could Change Voting in Hawaii. The host for this show is Jay Fidell. The guest is Sandy Ma.

Sandy Ma, Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii, will help us understand the voting bills in the 2022 session of the Hawaii State Legislature, as well as the status of the Republican efforts to undermine free and fair voting in various states on the mainland.

Think Tech’s  vision is to be a leader in shaping a more vital and thriving Hawaii as the foundation for future generations. Our mission is to be the leading digital media platform raising public awareness and promoting civic engagement in Hawaii.

ThinkTech Hawaii streams live on the Internet from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Hawaii time most weekdays, then we stream our earlier shows all night long. Check us out any time for great content and great community.

Honolulu Civil Beat - May 01, 2022 - Here Are Some Good Ideas That Are Poised To Make It Through The Legislature

Bills establishing ranked-choice voting, a chief data officer, retirement programs and free copying of public records passed or are set to pass this week.

[The following excerpt details the article’s report on Ranked Choice Voting; click on the link to read the rest of the good ideas]

Say Hello To RCV?

Another good idea set for a final vote Tuesday would allow, beginning in 2023, ranked-choice voting for special federal elections and special elections for county council seats. RCV lets voters rank candidates from favorite to least favorite.

“Voters, instead of having to choose only one candidate to vote for, will always get to vote for their favorite candidates, even if the candidates do not have a good chance of winning,” Sandy Ma of Common Cause Hawaii wrote in a Community Voice last month about Senate Bill 2162. “Voters, under the RCV system, will no longer have to feel like there is a predetermined winner — typically the most well-connected or well-funded.”

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - April 21, 2022 - Letters to the Editor: Letters: Both primary, general elections coming soon

When the letter to the editor by Leigh Prentiss appeared (“Early campaign signs blight neighborhoods,” April 17, Star-Advertiser), it created much consternation within Common Cause Hawaii. Our nonprofit, nonpartisan organization engages in election protection activities during the election season to ensure that people may accurately, properly and securely vote.

The letter was filled with misinformation. The elections are right around the corner! The primary election is Aug. 13; vote-by-mail ballots are due in voters’ mailboxes by July 26. Voters should have already started to receive yellow postcards from the County Elections Division to confirm their names and addresses to receive the vote-by-mail ballots. (If not, see elections.hawaii.gov.)

There is a general election on Nov. 8, and voters will receive those vote-by-mail ballots by Oct. 21. It is wrong to tell people that the General Election is the only election that we will be having in 2022; the primary election is equally important. Participate in democracy by voting in both.

(This LTE was submitted by Sandy Ma, Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii)

Honolulu Civil Beat - April 14, 2022- Ranked Choice Voting Is Simple And Good For Democracy

The Hawaii Legislature should pass Senate Bill 2162 to allow for more voter choice and more substantive campaigns.

Ranked choice voting is a simple election reform that permits voters to rank all candidates in a particular race from favorite to least favorite. It’s just that simple. Even though it is simple, RCV has many positive benefits. Voters, instead of having to choose only one candidate to vote for, will always get to vote for their favorite candidates, even if the candidates do not have a good chance of winning.

(This opinion piece in Civil Beat was authored by Sandy Ma, Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii.)

Hawaii Tribune-Herald - March 20, 2022 - Bills diminishing neighbor island political clout die in House

Two Senate measures that would have concentrated more legislative power on Oahu at the expense of the neighbor islands were shut down last week in their first House committee. The House Committee on Government Reform on Wednesday deferred Senate Bills 3244 and 3254, which strive to change how population is counted for allocating the number of senators and representatives per island and drawing legislative boundary maps. The reapportionment process is undertaken every 10 years following updated population figures from the U.S. Census.

Common Cause of Hawaii supported both new measures. Executive Director Sandy Ma said Hawaii is the only state to remove the nonresidents from its count.

“We don’t want a process where certain people are not counted in reapportionment and redistricting, where other people such as temporary and part-time residents may be counted,” Ma said.

Hawaii Free Press - March 19, 2022 - Committee amends bill for Hawaii election guide that could have cost millions

The Hawaii Senate Committee on Judiciary amended a bill that would have required state elections officials to compile a voter’s guide that could cost up to $2.5 million.

House Bill 124 would have required the guide to be published for this year’s elections. The committee moved the bill’s effective date to Jan. 1, 2023, in time for the 2024 elections. The guide would consist of 150-word statements from candidates running for statewide or federal offices. The candidate statements would be translated into languages covered by the Voting Rights Act, according to written testimony from Scott Nago, the state’s chief election officer. The committee agreed to add a Hawaiian translation. “The voter information guide would be made available 45 days before each election to coincide with ballots sent to uniformed and overseas voters,” Nago said in his testimony.

The bill is backed by Common Cause Hawaii, but the organization raised concerns about how the guide would be distributed.

“As the current pandemic has revealed, many people do not have access to broadband and/or reliable mail delivery,” Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, said in written testimony. “Voter information guides must be made available at banks, grocery stores, community centers, public libraries, government buildings, and other locations where people are likely to gather.” Ma and Janet Mason of the League of Women Voters also asked that the guide include information on any proposed amendments on the ballot.

Iroquois Countys Times-Republic - March 18, 2022 - Committee amends bill for Hawaii election guide that could have costs millions

The Hawaii Senate Committee on Judiciary amended a bill that would have required state elections officials to compile a voter’s guide that could cost up to $2.5 million.

House Bill 124 would have required the guide to be published for this year’s elections. The committee moved the bill’s effective date to Jan. 1, 2023, in time for the 2024 elections. (Please see the Hawaii Free Press March 19 article above for details and Common Cause Hawaii’s comments on this issue).

Common Cause Hawaii Sponsored Webinar on Redistricting - February, 28 2022

On this date Sandy Ma, Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii, organized and sponsored a webinar panel discussion of recent Hawaii Redistricting activities. Jacob Aki moderated a distinguished panel to discuss the issues and the map drawing in Hawaii’s redistricting efforts in response to the 2020 Census. The quite knowledgeable panel consisted of David Rosenbrock who was responsible for training the Redistricting Commission on the use of mapping software, and three members of the Redistricting Commission – Vice Chair Chase Shigemasa, Natalie Hussey-Burdick from Oahu’s Windward side and Meizhu Lui from the Big Island. Those participating in this event learned a lot about the process and its results.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - Letters to the Editor - February 14, 2022 - Letters: Ranked choice voting has multiple benefits; Give voters real options with ranked choice

Both LTE’s strongly support Briana Harmon’s informative article on ranked choice voting (RCV) (“Switch to ranked choice voting to more closely reflect Hawaii voters’ preferences,” Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, Feb. 6).

Hawaii Public Radio - January 04, 2022 - State lawmakers eye digital driver's license system

A proposal to create a state digital identification program is moving forward at the Legislature. House Bill 1686 would require the state Department of Transportation to establish and implement a pilot program issuing digital driver’s licenses and identification cards. The bill would require the department to create protocols to ensure drivers are fit to drive — and upgrade infrastructure to accommodate a digital ID. But there are questions regarding how it will interface with other state services such as automatic voter registration — which was approved last year.

“Automatic voter registration provides that there shall be an opportunity to register to vote when you get a driver’s license and identification card. And because this is moving online, or proposed to be moved online, we’re not sure how this would move or interface with AVR,” said Sandy Ma is with Common Cause Hawaii. “Further, according to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, in any vehicle transaction a person must be provided with the opportunity to register to vote,” Ma said.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - February 06, 2022 - Column: Switch to ranked choice voting to more closely reflect Hawaii voters’ preferences

The winner-take-all system we currently use in our elections forces voters to simply pick one candidate. This way of voting often forces voters to select candidates based on that candidate’s electability, and not because it is who they really want in office. It also makes it so voters don’t often do a lot of research into many of the candidates, and vote based on popularity or name recognition versus on positions that candidates have taken. A solution to the winner-take-all system is ranked choice voting (RCV).

Why do I, a senior at Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the Big Island, know that RCV will improve elections? This past summer, I attended a political science camp in Washington, D.C., where I learned about different voting systems that are being utilized in the United States. One system I learned about was, as you may have guessed, RCV, and how it works.

Briana Harmon is interested in voting modernization because she wants people’s votes to better represent their beliefs.

Honolulu Civil Beat Community Voices - February 02, 2022 - Ranked Choice Voting Would Improve Democracy In Hawaii

Australia and Hawaii share a lot in common: surf, beaches, weather. When it comes to electing our political representatives, however, there is one key difference.

For over 100 years, Australians have used ranked choice voting, known as RCV, which allows voters to indicate their preference between candidates, rather than the single “take it or leave it” choice used in much of the United States, including Hawaii.

Hawaii’s Legislature is currently considering a bill — Senate Bill 2162 — to introduce RCV for one-off special vacant county council seats and federal elections. If successful, Hawaii would join Maine and Alaska, and major cities such as San Francisco and Oakland in California, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, in choosing some or all of their politicians this way.

This letter to Civil Beat was submitted by a good friend of Common Cause Hawaii, Benjamin Reilly.

West Hawaii Today - January 30, 2022 - House and Senate maps adopted: New House district goes to West Hawaii

The state Reapportionment Commission stayed the course Friday and finalized House and Senate election maps for the next decade, shaking off resident complaints from Hawaii Island and Oahu, citizen-produced alternative maps and even the threat of lawsuits in its 8-1 decision.

But many residents were not happy with the final products.

Sandy Ma, representing Common Cause Hawaii, urged the commission to reject their maps.” The proposed final maps do not take community concerns or testimonies into account and it still split communities of interest,” Ma said.

Honolulu Civil Beat - January 28, 2022 - Hawaii Reapportionment Commission Approves Final Legislative Maps

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission on Friday approved new maps of redrawn legislative districts that decide which communities elected officials will represent for the next decade. Public testifiers from Oahu and the Big Island warned the commission that residents may sue to overturn the maps.

Sandy Ma, director of Common Cause Hawaii, worried that Hawaiian voters could be disenfranchised as new House maps split the Hawaiian homestead community in Papakolea. In Kapolei, the Maluohai homestead subdivision would also be split between two House districts.

ThinkTech Discussion on Voting Rights - January 25, 2022

Sylvia Albert, Common Cause Voting and Elections Director, and Sandy Ma, Common Cause Hawaii’s Executive Director, participated in a ThinkTech discussion on voting issues nationally and locally on Tuesday., 1/25/2022.

West Hawaii Today - January 14, 2022 - Voter registration database questioned

Investigating errors and possible fraud in the state’s voter registration database is the responsibility of the county elections clerks and not the state, Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago told the state Elections Commission on Wednesday.

One issue, noted testifier Sandy Ma with Common Cause Hawaii, is that the state’s automatic voter registration process implemented last year ties the registered voter’s address for the all-mail ballot election to that of the address of the application or renewal of the driver’s license. But on Hawaii Island, Kauai and Maui, when drivers change their address with the county DMV, they are not issued a new license, so their ballot will be sent to the old address, Ma said.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - January 09, 2022 - Insurrection was an assault on truth and the rule of law

One year ago, a violent, racist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in a brazen attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

We deserve the truth about the causes behind the attack that left numerous fatalities and many others seriously injured. However, the reverberations from the attack on our democracy continue beyond Jan. 6.

Since the 2020 election, at least three election-related threats have continued:

1. the former president’s “Big Lie” about who won and the specter of partisan election sabotage;

2. many Republican state legislators trying to silence voters with restrictive barriers to voting;

3. newly gerrymandered maps, largely intended to silence and dilute the voices of Black and brown voters, who have made up a large share of the country’s population growth since 2010.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - January 06, 2022 - Editorial: Correct flaws in reapportionment

Reapportionment. It is a complicated set of discussions aimed at finding the best way for the current population to be served in its government. This is the sort of thing filled with numbers and election mapping lines that make eyes cross. In actual fact, it’s the crux of our American representative democracy, and it really matters.

Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, has been among the most vocal critics of Hawaii’s Reapportionment Panel, citing where members met in executive session that hadn’t been scheduled. She also said many of the problems that arose later could have been averted if there had been greater direct public engagement early on.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - December 29, 2021 - Letters: Reapportionment panel actions reveal ugly truth

Every decade, after the Census, a politically appointed State Reapportionment Commission redraws the state legislative lines to ensure that people are equally represented. The purpose for remapping the political boundaries is so that The People are able to elect representatives who best serve us. The commission does not seem to understand this; it seems to think it should redraw political boundaries to provide for the easy reelection of incumbents.
While this commission attempts to gaslight the public by saying it listened to a majority of community concerns, the community sees that its redistricting maps only serve to protect incumbents and any benefit to the community is an unintentional byproduct. We see the ugly truth of the commission’s actions.
Clearly, it cares about only one community — those already elected to power. Give The People fair maps now for the health of our democracy!

This Letter to the Editor was submitted by Sandy Ma, Executive director, Common Cause Hawaii

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - December 23, 2021 - Residents reject redrawn Hawaii district maps, call out lack of transparency

The effort to redraw state district maps for House of Representatives and Senate seats is drawing criticism from concerned residents and neighborhood boards and raising questions about transparency. Every 10 years, Hawaii is tasked with redrawing the district maps for state and congressional lawmakers based on the latest U.S. Census data. The maps establish who lawmakers will be representing and who, in turn, will be voting for them.

So far the main critique of the Oahu map currently proposed by the Reapportionment Commission, which must finish its work by early February, is that it combines parts of Hawaii Kai in East Honolulu with swaths of Waimanalo and Lanikai on the Windward side into one House district.

Honolulu Civil Beat - November 14, 2021 - Legislature 2022: Hawaii Needs An Official Voters’ Information Pamphlet

The guides make for better voters, level the candidate playing field and improve the democratic process. Hawaii made a quantum leap forward when it allowed statewide mail-in balloting in 2020. It was a good idea that led to a major increase in turnout while also retaining the opportunity to vote in person. But it took years for the legislation to pass.

Studies of voters’ guides indicates that they are an inexpensive and effective way to increase civic engagement. Voters read them and find them useful. One survey of Californians found that a majority of people who read their guide considered it their most important source of election information.

Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, agrees that a printed pamphlet is necessary: “If a kupuna does not have a computer, how are they going to read it online?”She also notes that many public housing facilities in Hawaii do not have free high-speed internet access.

PBS Hawaii Insights - October 29, 2021 - Reapportionment and Why it Matters to You.

Every 10 years, the boundaries of elected political districts around the state are redrawn to reflect population changes, sometimes creating a new district in one county and eliminating an old district in another. Sandy Ma, Common Cause Hawaii’ Executive Director was one of the individuals interviewed for this program.

Hawaii Tribune-Herald - October 19, 2021 - New maps could pit incumbents against each other: Shifting legislative district lines draw scrutiny

Redistricting is the process of drawing political boundaries based on patterns of population growth. The goal is to ensure equal representation by making the population of each district as close to each other as possible, while respecting geographical boundaries and communities of interest.

Bart Dame, national committeeman for the state Democratic Party, said he suspects political posturing at play. “It looks to me like districts are being drawn to protect certain incumbents and to punish certain incumbents,” he said.

The redrawing of Hawaii Island’s four Senate districts may have another problem, said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii.“There may be an inference of cracking — where minority Native Hawaiian voters are split or fractured into several districts. If a minority population was placed within one district where they are a majority, the minority community could possibly have an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice,” Ma said in testimony. “Care also needs to be taken to prevent packing, which is when minority voters are compressed into a smaller number of districts to waste their collective strength, instead of effectively controlling one district or more.”

Hawaii Tribune-Herald - September 27, 2021 - Counting inmates where they live: Redistricting Commission ponders jail and prison populations

Should inmates in Big Island correctional facilities be counted at the facility itself or where they usually live when they’re not incarcerated? That’s a question the county Redistricting Commission is mulling over as it strives to draw boundary lines for County Council districts for the next decade.

“Including incarcerated persons in the population count for the district in which their facility is located alters representational proportions and, as a result, the voting power of residents,” Jacob Aki, representing Common Cause Hawaii said Thursday in testimony to the commission. “Counting Hawaii’s incarcerated population according to their home addresses will eliminate this issue and ensure an accurate and true reapportionment.”

Honolulu Civil Beat - September 23, 2021 -

Advocates Raise Transparency Concerns Over Oahu’s Redistricting. A nine-member panel responsible for the once-in-a-decade task of redrawing Oahu’s political boundaries based on census data has faced criticism from democracy advocates that the process so far lacks transparency and “meaningful public input.”

The Oahu Reapportionment Commission has until Oct. 26 to complete the final map of nine City Council districts based on the 2020 census data, which aims to make sure each district has roughly the same number of people. This also will determine which council members people can vote for in the 2022 elections.

“We want the process of redistricting to be open and transparent,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a grassroots organization working to boost public participation in government. “We want the community to be able to talk about how their community can be represented fairly in this redistricting process given how much the community has changed in the last 10 years.”

Honolulu Civil Beat - September 13, 2021 - Our Democracy Starts With Redistricting

This is a Community Voice article by Sandy Ma, Common Cause Hawaii’s Executive Director. She writes:

Something major is happening in Hawaii and across the nation right now — reapportionment and redistricting. Reapportionment and redistricting only happen once every 10 years, and it impacts our future for the next decade — everything from who will run for office, if we will be able to elect representatives of our choice, to fair funding for schools, hospitals, roads and more that affect our communities.

Redistricting determines political power for the next decade — by redrawing the lines, a voter’s power may be altered. With this in mind, do you think the maps could be better drawn now for the Native Hawaiian community?

Our population has changed with the 2020 Census. Make your voice heard. Advocate for your community to ensure that your political voice is heard and your community is fairly represented for the next 10 years.

We, the people, can ensure that these maps are drawn to represent our community, culture and concerns. We can ensure that it is not only political considerations that are at play in the redistricting process. This is our democracy. It starts with redistricting. It starts with us, our voice.

Read the entire article to see what you can do to ensure redistricting here is done fairly.

Honolulu Civil Beat - September 13, 2021 - Our Democracy Starts With Redistricting

Something major is happening in Hawaii and across the nation right now — reapportionment and redistricting. Reapportionment and redistricting only happen once every 10 years, and it impacts our future for the next decade — everything from who will run for office, if we will be able to elect representatives of our choice, to fair funding for schools, hospitals, roads and more that affect our communities.

Based on the 2020 census apportionment count, Hawaii will maintain its two House seats. And redistricting is happening now. The reason district lines must be redrawn every decade is because the U.S. Constitution requires that political districts of the same type (congressional, state house, state senate, etc.) have the same number of people. With people relocating, each elected official should represent the same number of people.

This is an excerpt from this Civil Beat Article written by Sandy Ma, Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - July 07, 2021 - Letter to the Editor - For the People Act sets voting baseline

The continent is awash in voter suppression legislation. Money is flooding our elections and drowning out the people’s voice. Even in Hawaii, we are not immune from the corrosive effects of dark money on our politics: The Legislature recently overrode the veto of Senate Bill 404 (relating to electioneering communications), which will reduce transparency in our local elections.

This leads to the need for H.R.1, the For The People Act, contrary to Curtis Wheeler’s letter (“For the People Act needs vigorous debate,” Star-Advertiser, July 8).

A baseline must be set for voting rights, which H.R.1 will do, ensuring that all eligible citizens nationwide may participate in our democracy.

Further, our elected officials should be focused on the needs of everyday people, not just wealthy special interests. H.R.1 creates a small-donor citizen-funded elections program to amplify the voices of everyday people, so candidates focus on our priorities, instead of spending time raising money from major donors and wealthy special interests.

We all deserve these freedoms and accountable leaders.

Sandy Ma, Executive director, Common Cause Hawaii

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - July 07, 2021 - Column: Supreme Court guts Voting Rights Act

Just three days before this July Fourth, I had tears in my eyes when I heard that our U.S. Supreme Court justices, in analyzing two Arizona voter restrictions in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, continued voter suppression against Blacks and other minorities.
Barriers to voting — they have existed since we became a country. Only the white man with property was given the right to vote when our country was founded. These barriers were seen until 1965 for Blacks, especially in the Deep South and Texas in the forms of terroristic threatening, beatings, water hosing, dog attacks, burning churches and homes, lynchings and death.

In Hawaii we have a different story, fortunately. Our state has a strong history of adopting pro-voting reforms and is now a “beacon of light for other states … during this time of assault on the very foundations of our democracy,” noted Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, in a March commentary. On June 28, Act 126 became law, when Gov. David Ige signed Senate Bill 159. Ensuring our access to the ballot, Hawaii now has automatic voter registration, requiring any person who is eligible to vote and applies for a driver’s license or identification card to be automatically registered to vote unless the applicant affirmatively declines.

West Hawaii Today - May 27, 2021 - Letter to the Editor - Governor Ige needs to sign AVR bill

The ideals of our democracy were attacked on Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol. As a fourth-generation Japanese-American citizen born and raised in Hawaii, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that our democracy could be so fragile or that our country would be so divided.

People elect legislators and governors who have the power to pass or kill voter registration bills. The people of Hawaii have the power to modernize our elections by urging Gov. David Ige to sign the Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) Senate Bill 159 into law. AVR removes barriers to register to vote, updates our voter rolls and ensures compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Please email david.y.ige@hawaii.gov or call (808) 586-0034 to ask that SB159 be signed into law through a bill signing ceremony before June 21.

This letter to the editor was written and submitted by Caroline Kunitake, Common Cause Hawaii’s Program and Engagement Manager

Honolulu Civil Beat - April 21, 2021 - Automatic Voter Registration Bill Nears Final Approval

Senate Bill 159, which makes an application for voter registration part of all state identification card or driver’s license applications, was passed out of conference committee. It now awaits a final vote from the full House and Senate. If passed, it should make it easier than ever to register to vote in Hawaii.

“It is a long time in coming, and we thank Chair Luke and Sens. Karl Rhoads and Chris Lee for being such amazing champions of AVR and making sure people have the right to register through the DMV,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii. “Without Chair Luke’s approval, we could not have gotten this done.”

Hawaii Tribune-Herald - April 12, 2021 - Automatic voter registration bill nears passage

Hawaii is one step closer to joining a growing number of states enacting automatic voter registration.

Senate Bill 159 would make voter registration part of the application process for a driver’s license or identification card. The measure was passed by the state House on Friday, with only one vote — Rep. Bob McDermott (R-Oahu) — in opposition. The bill now returns to the Senate and will likely head to conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate amendments.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - Apri 11, 2021 - Column: Getting young Micronesians to vote in Hawaii

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz’s recent announcement that $1 million in federal CARES Act money has been allocated to address the needs of Pacific
Islanders who have been hard hit by COVID-19 is welcome news. The state Department of Health tells us that while Pacific Islanders comprise
just 4% of the population here, they make up 31% of hospitalizations for COVID-19. What is obscured in this data is the especially hard hit taken by the Micronesian community, especially the Chukkese and the Marshallese. They are just not at the table when policies are made that affect their wellbeing.

That is why I am so encouraged by the increased civic engagement I see among our Micronesian youth, and why I believe passing automatic voter registration will help improve access to the ballot for Micronesian voices so that the opportunity is present for them to be heard at the highest levels of policymaking and government.

By Josh Howard, Exec Director of We Are Oceania.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - March 30, 2021 - Column: Automatic voter registration: Poll worker knows it’s a winner

Hawaii’s automatic voter registration (AVR) bill has one more hurdle to pass: It needs to be heard by the Finance Committee chaired by Rep. Sylvia Luke. We hope she will schedule a hearing for it. The revised version of the bill now provides for eligible persons to opt-in for automatic voter registration when they apply for or update their Hawaii driver’s license or state ID. Because it is optional, it allows for doing two important things at once, a benefit to all voters.

As a volunteer election worker, I saw firsthand how AVR could alleviate some problems both voters and election volunteers face.

(This column was written by Rosemary Casey, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, who lives in Honolulu and has volunteered for Catholic Charities Hawaii. Click on the link to read about her experiences with the 2020 election in Hawaii)

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - March 19, 2021 - Hawaii moves to allow campaign funds to be used for child care

Hawaii lawmakers are considering making it legal for candidates running for political office to tap their campaign donations to cover child care costs. Senate Bill 597, which has sailed through the Senate and passed the House of Representatives’ Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, is part of a growing national movement to make it easier for parents of young children, and women in particular, to run for office.

“We don’t think that people who have young dependent children or dependent family members should have a harder time campaigning and running for office and we think this bill will level the playing field,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, which advocates for open and transparent government. She told lawmakers that the bill would help create elected bodies that are more representative of their constituents.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - March 10, 2021 - Column: Why not automatic voter registration?

An Editorial: Island Voices article written by Piilani Kaopuiki, President of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii, the article dispels myths about AVR and enumerates its many benefits for Hawaiians and our democracy.

Ms Kaiapuki sums up by saying, “Let’s pass this simple bill that doesn’t require an appropriation. Then we can all enjoy the convenience of automatic voter registration and efficient voter roll maintenance.”

Honolulu Star Advertiser - March 07, 2021 - Editiorial: On Politics: Amid voterrestriction moves elsewhere, automatic voter registration here worth support

Registering to vote, step one in a simple act of good citizenship, is now part of the battleground that is the Democrat-Republican national split. Hawaii has joined the fight.If approved by the state Legislature and Gov. David Ige, Hawaii would become the 21st state to approve automatic voter registration (AVR). It would include voter registration automatically in the documents you sign when you first apply for a Hawaii driver’s license. Applicants would have to provide evidence that they are who they say they are, just as they do now, but would also have to say they are eligible to vote and would then be automatically registered to vote if 18 or older. Applicants would have to actively say they didn’t want to register to vote in order to opt out.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - February 25, 2021 - Hawaii Senate committee passes automatic voter registration

A bill advanced Tuesday by the Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee would automatically register to vote eligible U.S. citizens who apply for a driver’s license or state identification card, unless the individual declines to be registered. The seven members of the committee unanimously passed the legislation, which heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a good government group, said the measure would make voter registration rolls more accurate and secure by keeping them updated. It would increase the number of ballots mailed to people’s current, correct addresses and well as ensure the names on people’s ballots would match the names on their identification.

West Hawaii Today - February 23, 2021 - State Senate committee passes automatic voter registration

A bill advanced Tuesday by the state Senate Judiciary Committee would automatically register to vote eligible U.S. citizens who apply for a driver’s license or state identification card, unless the individual declines to be registered.

Hawaii would be the latest state to adopt automatic voter registration if the measure becomes law. The National Conference of State Legislatures said 20 other states and the District of Columbia had already enacted similar laws as of January. Oregon was the first to do so, in 2016.

Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a good government group, said the measure would make voter registration rolls more accurate and secure by keeping them updated. It would increase the number of ballots mailed to people’s current, correct addresses and well as ensure the names on people’s ballots would match the names on their identification.

In addition, Ma said the measure would decrease the number of people who would need to go to in-person voter service centers to register to vote during elections, thus shortening wait times at the facilities.

AP News - February 24, 2021 - Hawaii Senate committee passes automatic voter registration

A bill advanced by the Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee would automatically register to vote eligible U.S. citizens who apply for a driver’s license or state identification card, unless the individual declines to be registered.

The State Office of Elections submitted testimony supporting the bill, saying it would increase access to voter registration and help ensure the accuracy of voter registration rolls.

Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a good government group, said the measure would make voter registration rolls more accurate and secure by keeping them updated. It would increase the number of ballots mailed to people’s current, correct addresses and well as ensure the names on people’s ballots would match the names on their identification.

KHON, the Hawaii News Channel, cited this AP news account on their February 24 news broadcast. You can see a summary of their reporting by clicking on Button 2.

The Hill - February 24, 2021 - Hawaii advances automatic voter registration bill

A state Senate panel in Hawaii has unanimously passed a bill that would allow for automatic voter registration.

The bill would let those eligible to vote automatically be registered when they apply for a driver’s license or state identification card, The Associated Press reported. In Hawaii, voter registration information would have to be filled out before submitting a state identification card application and the information would be sent to election officials. The legislation has received support from many as it could cut wait times in voter service centers and allow more people to participate in elections.

The bill will be presented to the full Senate and needs to be voted on to move forward to the governor’s office.

Hawaii News Now - February 24, 2021 - Hawaii Senate committee passes automatic voter registration

A bill advanced Tuesday by the Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee would automatically register to vote eligible U.S. citizens who apply for a driver’s license or state identification card, unless the individual declines to be registered.
Hawaii would be the latest state to adopt automatic voter registration if the measure becomes law. The National Conference of State Legislatures said 20 other states and the District of Columbia had already enacted similar laws as of January. Oregon was the first to do so, in 2016. The Hawaii bill says officials would not process applications for an identification card or driver’s license until an applicant fills in a section related to voter registration. Officials would automatically send an applicant’s information to election officials unless the applicant specifically indicates he or she does not want to be registered to vote.

Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a good government group, said the measure would make voter registration rolls more accurate and secure by keeping them updated. It would increase the number of ballots mailed to people’s current, correct addresses and well as ensure the names on people’s ballots would match the names on their identification.

Honolulu Civil Beat - February 12, 2121 - More In-Person Voting Sites Proposed For Hawaii

Lawmakers want to tweak the elections law in an effort to head off long lines for voters like those seen during the Nov. 3 general election. Senate Bill 548 — which would allow the counties to establish more voter service centers — won approval in a key Senate committee Wednesday and is now teed up for a vote by the full Senate.

The bill requires the counties to open more in-person voting sites on Election Day. Oahu must open three additional sites, with one on the Windward side, while the neighbor islands must open one additional center each.

The ratio for how many voters will be serviced by in-person voting options is also of interest to Common Cause Hawaii, which for more than a year prior to the Nov. 3 election advocated for more voting sites and drop boxes.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Commentary Chad Blair: Advocates Again Pushing For Automatic Voter Registration

Past proposals have perished at the Hawaii Legislature, but the success of mail-in voting suggests a favorable sea change.

SB 2005 was supported by good-government advocacy groups such as Common Cause Hawaii, the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice and the League of Women Voters. It was also backed by the state Office of Elections and county clerks.

But then along came the pandemic. Now, there is a push to get similar legislation approved in the 2021 session.

“We have been talking to lawmakers and, generally, there is a sense of support for AVR,” says Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii. “It will save money and time and help make elections more secure. It’s long past time to do this.”

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?

Honolulu Civil Beat - Elections Officials Want To Tweak Hawaii’s Mail-Voting Law Next Year

Hawaii Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago plans to ask the Legislature for changes to Hawaii’s mail voting system that could make it easier for officials to open more in-person voting sites and give voters more time to fill in their ballots. Despite calls from good government and voting rights groups, officials stuck with just eight centers all the way through Election Day, citing that state law requiring uniform times as one impediment to opening more. Sandy Ma, the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, is also planning to push for changes to mail voting as well as try to convince lawmakers to expand automatic voter registration.

AP News - Long wait for Hawaii vote spurs call for more voter centers

Voter advocates say Hawaii should set up more voter service centers after a last-minute surge of interest led to hours-long lines for in-person voting on Election Day even as the state switched to a vote-by-mail system for casting ballots.

Sandy Ma, the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for good government, said she has been calling for more of these centers ever since she learned last year there would only be eight spread around the state. She said Common Cause supports vote-by-mail because it improves voter turnout and allows voters to study their electoral choices in the comfort of their homes. Yet she said some people need in-person voting. Students and homeless individuals, for example, move a lot and may not get their ballot in the mail. Or people may need language translation or help reading their ballot. Ma said people waited between two to four hours on Tuesday at the two voter centers on Oahu, an island with about 549,000 registered voters. Common Cause volunteers reported lines lasting one to two hours on Maui Island and in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island.

Hawaii News Now - What worked, what didn’t: Election officials discuss improvements for next election

Election officials said they are reviewing how election-day went after more than 4,500 showed-up for in-person voting at a limited number of voting service cneters on election day.

Common Cause Hawaii, a non-profit organization supporting democracy and other processes such as voting, said they warned election officials that eight voter service centers throughout the state would not be enough on election day. “We saw this coming,” said Sandy Ma, the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii. “We nearly filed a lawsuit in August over the vote by mail process and needing more voter service centers. But our warnings were not headed. And it’s unfortunate.”

KHON News - Near midnight wait leads to call for more voting centers by 2022

Long lines at two Oahu voter service centers made it a long night for voters waiting in line for hours to cast their ballots and those eager to hear the results.

Though the small amount of voter service centers on the neighbor islands seemed to work well, on Oahu, people were still in line at Honolulu Hale until 10:30 p.m. and Kapolei Hale until nearly 11:30 p.m.

“Some people have to go vote in-person at a voter service center, and just having two for an island population of 1,000,000 did create problems,” SandyMa, Common Cause Hawaii’s Executive Director, said. “We’re going to go back again during the 2021 legislative session next year and ask for more fixes to the vote-by-mail law. We want more voter service centers, a minimum level. We want more drop boxes throughout the state.”

Hawaii Public Radio - The Conversation: Fixing Hawaii's Long Voter Lines

Concerns about long voting lines! Four hour waits to vote? County election officials were caught flatfooted with a last minute surge on some Islands. Common Cause warned of this scenario and even considered legal action over it. Executive Director Sandy Ma tells us what their volunteers saw on the ground. The state’s Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago plans to meet with county clerks to find out what it can do to avoid the late crowds, which delayed the counting of the returns. City and County of Honolulu Clerk Glen Takahashi tells us what went wrong.

Honolulu Civil Beat - ‘Distrust,’ Enthusiasm And A Hawaii Law Fueled Long Lines On Election Day

Calls for more voter centers were unheeded in the past year.

Thousands of Hawaii voters waited for hours in lines outside of Hawaii’s eight voter centers Tuesday night, a situation that election officials have promised to remedy but one that citizen groups have been warning against for months.

The debate over whether Hawaii had enough voter service centers has been playing out over the past year between groups like Common Cause Hawaii and election officials.

“There were seeds sown of distrust,” said Sandy Ma, citing concerns with the postal system cuts that were floated earlier this year. “So it was foreseeable that people wanted to vote in person. There should have been more in-person places opened up.”

Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, has been trying to get officials statewide to open more voter centers. The state got federal relief funds for elections, most of which had been spent on rent for larger counting centers.

The Maui News - Voting officials surprised by large Maui precinct turnout

County officials and volunteers were surprised with the large turnout of in-person voters on Election Day. James Krueger, deputy county clerk, said volunteers helped more people on Election Day than they did during the entire 10-day voting period for the primaries.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser OpEd - More voters, more voting centers

One of the questions the state Office of Elections and other voting officials has to answer is this: Why did so many people in a vote-by-mail state show up at the few Voter Service Centers on Election Day instead?
The throngs at Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale kept everyone waiting until late Tuesday night for voting to finish and the first results to be released. It exposed a lot of people to coronavirus infection risk, too.

One pledge many would like to hear: More voting centers will be open next time.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - Letter to the Editor: Next time, provide more voter service centers

The long lines to vote on Election Day (four hours at Kapolei and Honolulu Hale) could have been avoided if state and city officials had listened to Common Cause Hawaii and provided more voter service centers.

Two locations for 400,000 Oahu voters is ridiculous.

Larry Meecham, Wahiawa, Common Cause Hawaii Board Member

The Maui News - Democratic incumbents appear poised for victory

Democratic state lawmakers from Maui County cruised to comfortable leads in the first round of results, which were released hours later than expected after a rush of last-minute, in-person voting on Maui and across the state.

Candidates and voters alike waited late into the night for the first round of results after lines piled up at voter service centers in Maui County and across the state.

Wildberger said that Sandy Ma of Common Cause Hawaii, a government watchdog group, “called this in the spring” when she asked for more voter service centers. Honolulu and Hawaii counties each have two, while Kauai has one and Maui County has one each on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Column: In these frightening times, reclaim your power by voting

The world, the nation and Hawaii are currently struggling through deeply troubling and dangerous times.

People are anxious, unsettled and worried. We are frightened for our health, the safety of our families and our loved ones, due to COVID-19. We do not know if we will continue to be employed, given the enormous economic devastation the coronavirus is wreaking on Hawaii, and whether we will be able to provide food and shelter for ourselves and those who depend on us.

We are no longer in charge of our lives or masters of our own fate. We depend, now more than ever, on elected officials to provide guidance on when it is safe to go places, which places are safe to go to — essentially how to survive.

Unfortunately, the leadership from both the national and local governments have left something to be desired. There are over 200,000 Americans dead of COVID-19 and counting. And, Oahu just exited its second shutdown after Hawaii was initially hailed as a model for controlling coronavirus infections.

While it may feel as if we have no control and our lives are being dictated by outside agents, this is simply untrue. Now is the time and the season to speak out through the power of our vote. With a single cast ballot, it is a roar of our needs.

With Hawaii’s vote-by-mail system, ballots are being mailed to all registered voters on Oahu Monday and today, all registered voters on Hawaii County on Wednesday, all registered voters on Maui County on Thursday, and all registered voters on Kauai County on Friday. Do not let this opportunity pass to make your needs heard.

Your one vote absolutely matters. It matters because it is your right to be heard, and you deserve to be and will be heard. Your voice is just as important as anyone else’s on who should represent you and your needs in elected office. Your one vote can decide close races, especially in Hawaii, where many of our races are decided by razor thin margins. In truth, if you do not vote, then we end up with a government that does not represent all of us but just the select few of us, and our democracy of We The People will slowly perish.
When you receive your ballot package, please vote. You will have the opportunity to study at home the candidates and county charter amendments. Return your voted ballot by U.S. Postal Service no later than Oct. 27, and the postage is even prepaid.

After Oct. 27, please return your ballot to a voter service center or drop box located in your county. See the first link below for Dropbox locations.

Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Nov. 3 to count.
You are able to track the status of your ballot and can even download a virtual “I Voted” sticker at the second link below.

It is time to reclaim your power and find shelter from the storm through the vote.

Rise up and vote.

This editorial was written by Sandy Ma, Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii, a nonpartisan organization focused on creating an open, honest and accountable government.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Editorial - Mail-in voting put to the test

In Hawaii voters will be making key decisions in the Aug. 8 primary election – in many contests and at every level except the governor’s office and the U.S. Senate. These local races have the potential to bring new faces to municipal and state government, and likely will return a lot of the old hands, too. This is a chance to uncover the potential and the pitfalls of the state’s new all-mail-voting system.

There are no neighborhood polling stations where, at the last minute, you can run in and vote on Election Day. There are voter service center but they are few and far between.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Hawaii’s Homeless Voters Face Hurdles With All-Mail System

This year, as Hawaii rolled out its first all-mail election, Hawaii’s homeless community is faced with some challenges.

Sweeps, ID laws, mail access and transportation all have become barriers to homeless individuals casting their ballots and have hampered the ability of service providers who help them. Those issues have all been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as the recent threat of Hurricane Douglas.

With regular sweeps of homeless encampments, it’s hard to tell what district someone should be registered in. Darcy said it’s also been a challenge tracking down individuals who move often.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - Provide language aid for Hawaii voters, groups demand

Three nonprofits are calling on the state attorney general and election officials to provide translated ballots and voting materials to non-English and Hawaiian language speakers.
The letter, sent Tuesday, was signed by Maui Attorney Lance Collins on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Unions of Hawaii Foundation, Common Cause Hawaii and the Hawaii Institute for Philippine Studies. Collins noted that state law requires Hawaii agencies provide documents in languages other than English.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Why Does Hawaii Have Such Low Voter Turnout? Here’s What The Data Says

By now, Hawaii voters should have received their ballots in the mail.

If the 2018 voter turnout data is any indication, more than 60% of those ballots may end up in the garbage.

It’s no secret that voter turnout is abysmal in Hawaii — it’s a well-documented issue, both by local and national media, with many scholars and analysts taking stabs at trying to explain why that is.

“It’s quite sad, really,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a grassroots organization that works to boost public participation in government.

There are a lot of theories about the severe lack of engagement, she said, including the high cost of living and the dominant one-party system in the state.

The Maui News - Groups call for better access for rural and displaced voters

Nonprofit and civil rights groups are calling for more voter service centers in Maui County to help registered voters who live in remote areas or are homeless and lack traditional mail services.

Attorneys for these groups have said in separate letters to local election officials over the past week that three voter service centers — one each on Maui, Molokai and Lanai — will not be sufficient to serve more vulnerable voters during the state’s first mail-in only election

Honolulu Civil Beat - Getting A Ballot In The Mail For Your Dead Relative Is Not As Weird As It Seems

Elections officials are reluctant to purge voter rolls. But cases of people actually voting on someone else’s behalf almost never happen.

“Voter fraud is so exceedingly rare,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of the government watchdog group Common Cause Hawaii.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Is Hawaii Ready To Vote By Mail?

Hawaii’s first all-mail election will be spared from many of the growing pains that other states experienced as they blazed the trail years ago to conduct elections by mail as a way to boost voter turnout and save taxpayers money.

Good-government groups like Common Cause and the League of Women Voters as well as concerned citizens are already raising concerns over mail access, transportation and accessibility for disabled individuals as roadblocks to voter access — especially for those in rural communities who have historically seen low voting rates.

The Hawaii Herald - Hawaii Transitions to Vote-by-Mail

The article describes the transition to Vote-by-Mail and all it entails and the importance for Hawaii to show the country how well the concept can work. It cites Common Cause Hawaii’s Sandy Ma’s efforts in advocating for this new voting process.

Honolulu Civil Beat - This New PAC Is Attacking Mayoral Candidate Keith Amemiya

A new political action committee has launched a negative campaign against mayoral candidate Keith Amemiya just days before Oahu voters receive their primary election ballots in the mail. They’re pouring almost $17,000 in this effort, spreading disparaging messages, including false information, about Amemiya.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Letter to the Editor: Too few voter centers to cause election problems; Tear down 'blue wall of silence'; Concerns about mail-in voter fraud

Written by Larry Meecham, Common Cause Hawaii Board Member, the letter expresses concerns about the small number of Voter Service Centers in Hawaii for the Primary and General elections coming up.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser OpEd - There are too few Voter Service Centers!

Just eight Voter Service Centers are planned for our Hawaii elections – the Primary and the General. We urgently need more of these for Hawaii’s debut of Voting by Mail!

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Editorial: Get Ready for Hawaii's Inaugural VBM election!

A big change coming: you will vote from home in the August Primary. Later this month, election officials will mail out ballots for the August statewide primary election.
If you are a registered voter, the state will send you the official ballot to be filled out and mailed back before the Aug. 8 election. Common Cause Hawaii thinks this will be a dramatic improvement.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Will We Have A Democracy After COVID-19?

It seems like a lifetime ago that we had the opportunity to testify in support of Senate Bill 2005 which would introduce automatic voter registration to Hawaii. Now we meet for classes on Zoom and wonder what life will be like when we emerge from this pandemic.

Our elected leaders are apparently meeting without the need to hear our voices since the Sunshine Laws have been suspended. We will not be able to hold them accountable for the decisions they take behind closed doors.

Common Cause Hawaii has strongly advocated for the passing of Senate Bill 2005, allowing for Automatic Voter Registration in the state.

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 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.

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 Tribune-Herald - Commission sees election success in all-mail balloting

The election, the state’s first all-mail balloting, was generally regarded as a success, especially the primary. Ballots seemed to be mailed out in a timely manner and voters had several choices of returning their completed ballots, including postage-paid return mail, drop boxes and voter service centers.

“We do want to congratulate county election offices and state election officials for a smooth mail-in voting process during a pandemic,” Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, told the commission.

Sandy Ma added that she hopes government can provide more voter drop boxes and more voter service centers for the next election.

MSN - May 01, 2022 - Here Are Some Good Ideas That Are Poised To Make It Through The Legislature

With a new Legislature is sworn in, a handful of bills passed or are set to receive final votes this week. Senate Bill 3172 requires that any electronic audio or video recording of a board meeting be maintained as a public record. House Bill 1475 makes state legislators and employees complete mandatory ethics training courses every four years, subject to certain requirements. And Senate Bill 655 makes intentionally providing false information about the names or addresses of a people paying for campaign advertisements a class C felony. © Provided by Honolulu Civil Beat The Hawaii … Legislature is set to conclude its 2022 session on Thursday. Key bills still await final votes. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2018 The ethics training is needed more than ever in the wake of the convictions of a former Senate majority leader and a former House Finance Committee vice chair earlier this year — although it would seem obvious that accepting bribes to kill bills, as they did, is simply wrong. Another ethics bill, Senate Bill 555, would forbid state and county officials from holding fundraisers where contribution levels are suggested … during a regular session or special session of the Legislature. SB 555 has is flawed, however, as it does not stop a lawmaker from actually getting campaign money while deliberating over legislation, including bills promoted by special interests. But Senate Bill 3252 is good legislation. It sets a cap on the costs charged for the reproduction of some government records, waives the copying costs if the records are provided electronically and waives fees when … the public interest is served by a record’s disclosure. Say Hello To RCV? Another good idea set for a final vote Tuesday would allow, beginning in 2023, ranked-choice voting for special federal elections and special elections for county council seats. RCV lets voters rank candidates from favorite to least favorite. “Voters, instead of having to choose only one candidate to vote for, will always get to vote for their favorite candidates, even if the candidates do not have a good chance of winning,” Sandy Ma of … Common Cause Hawaii wrote in a Community Voice last month about Senate Bill 2162. “Voters, under the RCV system, will no longer have to feel like there is a predetermined winner — typically the most well-connected or well-funded.” Ideally, RCV should be expanded to other races. The Nation reported last month …

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