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Legislative Update

The 1987 legislative session is in the process of extending as we go to press so there is not a final tally on which bills passed or failed. However, two bills of interest were shelved in committee -- the Presidential Preference Primary and mail-in registration. League of Honolulu President, Arlene Ellis testified in favor of the mail-in registration. This bill was introduced by the Lieutenant Governor and would have made it easier for those persons unable to present themselves in person to the clerk, or unable to get to a notary public, to register to vote.

Another bill which would have allowed write-in votes in the primary election also suffered an early defeat. That bill was introduced after the 1986 lawsuit against the State Director of Elections, which is on appeal in federal court. The federal district court ordered Hawaii to allow write-in voting in the 1986 elections, however, the State was granted an injunction for 1986 pending appeal of the issues. That appeal involves write-in voting in both the primary and general elections and at this time has not been set for oral argument. A decision should be reached before the 1988 elections.

A bill which looks as if it will receive final approval of the legislature will allow the county clerks to clean up voter registration lists. Currently, the clerks testified, about 20 percent of the voters on the registration lists are nor correctly registered as that amount of mail is returned as undeliverable. With the passage of the new legislation the clerks will be able to send a notification to voters which if returned as not deliverable and with no forwarding address will lead to that person's name being removed from the registration rolls. In addition, those persons so removed will not be allowed to vote unless they reregister correctly by the registration deadline. So, if you have moved be sure to update your voter registration with the clerk.

Finally, a bill which will allow use of precinct workers who are at least 16 years of age but not yet registered voters has passed out of committee and will be up for final vote. Testimony before the legislature indicated that some precincts on Oahu and Hawaii suffer severe shortages of precinct workers. Currently, precinct officials have to be registered voters. This bill will allow high school students to be used in some positions as precinct workers.

A final word on the 1987 legislative session will be included in the May Voter. If you have any bills that we should comment on please let us know.

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