Chair Rhoads, Vice Chair San Buenaventura, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii would like to comment on HB 376 which changes the term of the chief election officer to 2 years, and requires the elections commission to conduct a performance evaluation of the chief election officer within 2 months of certification of election results and hold a public hearing relating to the performance evaluation.
The League of Women Voters is strongly opposed to changing the term of the CEO to 2 years. With a two-year appointment, a CEO would only be responsible for a single election cycle before being replaced or reappointed. A nonpartisan person dedicated long-term to conducting and improving our elections process should head the Elections Office. The CEO needs more than two years in office to think long-term.
We agree that the Elections Commission should evaluate the performance of the CEO after an election cycle, but this bill, paragraph (5), specifies an evaluation “within two months after certifying the last election;” If the last election were a Primary, the evaluation would take place at the height of preparation for a General Election, so we feel that “General Election” should be specified in this bill, and the wording should make it clear that the evaluation should be done after the “election is certified,” not after “certifying the election” as the Commission does not certify our elections.
HB 42, which also mandates the Elections Commission to evaluate the CEO after an election, specifies that the Commission “submit a written report of the evaluation to the legislature within ninety days of the certification of election results.” A written report available to the public on the evaluation seems warranted.
We commend HB42 for mandating a public hearing on the performance evaluation of the CEO before reappointment. There would be no performance evaluation for a person being appointed for the first time, so the words “appointment or” should be removed from paragraph (6). We respectfully suggest that HB376 be amended to add language making such a written report available to the public.
We urge you to consider our comments on this bill. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.