Honolulu Star-Advertiser OpEd Column - Elections office needs to prepare for vote-by-mail problems
In a few months, a potential 750,000 registered voters will vote by mail (VBM) for the very first time statewide in Hawaii. We’re in the midst of a pandemic causing — among much else — unprecedented social disruption and unpredictability. A second wave of COVID-19 is predicted during the lead-up to the general election in the fall. Many voters will not understand the new VBM process, or even be aware of it until days or hours before it begins. Common Cause Hawaii has already heard questions such as, “Do I have to register again?” (No, you don’t.) Yet the proclamation lists only two voter service centers (VSCs) on Oahu, three on Maui, two on Hawaii island and one on Kauai as sufficient to handle not just in-person voting, same-day voter registration and the collection of voted ballots — but also the lost, undelivered and spoiled ballots, plus the confusion, mistakes, mishaps and countless questions that VBM’s launch will inevitably bring.