Hawaii adopts Election Day voter registration
Honolulu, H.I. – July 1, 2014 – Hawaii’s House Bill 2590, which was introduced by Maui representative Kaniela Ing, was signed by Governor Neil Abercrombie today. HB2590 establishes voter registration at absentee polling places beginning in 2016, and adds voter registration at precinct polling places on Election Day, beginning in 2018.
“Hawaii joins an important group of states that have advanced proactive voting reforms which will increase access and participation in sharp contrast to the voter suppression tactics we have seen in all too many states,” said Miles Rapoport, President of Common Cause.
This measure is designed to help to address Hawaii’s current low voter turnout, and streamline Hawaii’s voting systems and its associated costs. States that have instituted same day voter registration have led the country in voter participation, with turnouts averaging 10 percent higher than states that have not done so. Increased citizen participation in the lawmaking and electoral process makes for a more robust democracy, and current technology makes it easy and economical to remove arbitrary deadlines, permitting registration when the candidates have debated and voter interest is typically greatest.
Hawaii’s HB 2590 also helps to counter a threat to our democracy associated with the courts’ bestowal upon artificial corporate entities a constitutional right of free speech, interpreted as a right to spend money. “We have witnessed a steady stream of cases from our highest court giving artificial corporate entities and a tiny minority of wealthy citizens more and more power to influence our elections. It’s important for us to do all that we can at the state level to facilitate broad citizen participation in our democratic process,” said Carmille Lim, Common Cause Hawaii Executive Director.
Common Cause Hawaii has worked with the League of Women Voters of Hawaii and Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) to advocate for the passage of this bill.