The League of Women Voters of Hawaii strongly supports HB 1133 HD1.
We have been long-time supporters of Election Day Registration because of the mostly positive results reported from states that have adopted this practice. As of February of 2005, six states (Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) allow election day registration. (There may be other states which have joined this list because there were efforts by citizens of several other states to adopt EDR.) And according to a report released by Demos, an organization active in election reform among other issues, in the elections of 2004, four of those six states topped the nation in voter turnout, and all six states had voter participation rates far higher than average.
Election day registration would also remove one of the most troubling allegations of voter suppression in some states—the removal of names off the registration lists because of similarity to convicted felons among other things.
For people who fear fraud, the requirement of showing a picture ID, and two documents to prove address of residence should be sufficient to calm their fears. Today, we allow registration by mail without the requirement of a picture ID, so the requirements for Election Day Registration sets a much higher standard for proof of identity and residence.
We feel that it is important to capture the interest of first-time voters who become aware of the need to elect a certain candidates or to support or oppose a ballot measure when the registration period is over, and help them gain the satisfaction of having done their part to make certain policy decisions or to select our political leaders. And hopefully this will become a life-long habit, something one does as a matter of course.
We in Hawaii should be ashamed of our miserable record of having the lowest voter participation in the nation. We must remove all barriers to voting, and initiate programs to encourage our citizens to become interested in local and state issues that will give them the incentive not only to vote but to become active participants in community, county and state-wide discourse on issues.
We need Election Day Registration. We urge you to support this initiative.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify on this bill.