Common Cause Hawaii believes that democracy works better when more people participate and we must look for ways to reduce barriers to voting. As such Common Cause has a long history of advocating for reforms to increase voter turnout and increase access to the polls. From leading the movement in support of the 16th amendment giving 18 year olds the right to vote, to most recently securing the passage of online voter registration and same day voter registration in Hawaii; we continue to fight to ensure that voters are able to make their voices heard on Election Day.
What is Voting by Mail?
A ballot is mailed to every registered voter, no request or application is necessary. Ballots are mailed out well ahead of Election Day, typically about a month in advance. The voter marks the ballot, puts it first into a secrecy envelope and then places the secrecy envelope and its contents in a separate mailing envelope. The voter signs an affidavit on the exterior of the mailing envelope and returns the package via mail. Postage costs are prepaid. Ballots must be received by 6:00PM on Election Day. Once returned by the voter, voting officials will scan the unopened exterior returned ballot to verify signatures and then open the envelope. The enclosed ballots are tabulated by computer, but a verifiable paper trail is maintained for all ballots. Replacement ballots for lost or damaged ballots are available from the county clerks, who cancel the original ballot before issuing a replacement. In-person voting sites will continue to be available for voters who would like to vote in-person and to provide additional services to voters.
Why Voting by Mail?
Hawaii voters want the convenience of voting by mail. Voters can avoid long lines and take their time when casting their ballots, rather than being pressured and rushed in a cramped booth on Election Day. In recent years, voters have increasingly opted to vote by mail instead of voting in person at walk-in polling places. During the 2016 general election, 53.6% of Hawaii voters cast their ballots prior to Election Day.
The state will save money. The Hawaii State Office of Elections estimates approximately $750 thousand would be saved in each election cycle by converting to Voting by Mail.
Update May 3, 2018
HB1401 HD1 SD1 CD1 (2017) was passed by the Hawaii State Legislature. The bill establishes a pilot Vote By Mail program for Kauai County in 2020.
Common Cause Hawaii has been a leading advocate for Vote By Mail and will continue advocate for the implementation of VBM in Hawaii. Together with the League of Women Voters Hawaii, and you we can ensure elections are accessible and that everyone can make their voice heard on election day. If you would like to get involved, and help us by contacting your legislator, submitting testimony, writing a letter to the editor, etc. in support of Vote By Mail, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.