The League of Women Voters strongly supports HB 1135 which would appropriate funds for the election commission to properly carry out its duties and responsibilities.
Certainly, the Elections Office should not have to fund the travel costs of neighbor island members and other expenses of the commission unless the Elections Office is specifically given the necessary funds. We believe that a separate budget for the commission would help the commissioners in tracking their expenditures and know the amount available for further activities. The Elections Office funds should not be relied on to cover any deficits, for the Legislature, I believe, has never been overly generous with the Elections Office’s Budget.
I monitored some of the meetings of the commission’s predecessor, the Elections and Appointment and Review Panel, which had decided to invite applications for the Office of the Chief Elections Officer even as they prepared a survey of interested parties on the performance of the present Chief Elections Officer who was up for reappointment. They had expected the Lieutenant Governor’s office to fund the advertising for applicants, but were told the funds would not be available. The fact that new applications were never solicited became a major bone of contention for certain panel members up to the moment and beyond the reappointment of Mr. Yoshina.
Even the survey which was carried out to help them in the evaluation of the CEO to help them in the reappointment decision was done on the cheap with no return envelopes provided. I was talked into getting League to do the compiling of the results of the survey, a very complicated process, complicated further by the various shapes and sizes of the return envelopes with some with no names on the outside, and many others with illegibly written names. The names are crucial in alphabetizing the envelopes to eliminate multiple entries. We did catch three questionnaires sent in separately by one participant. The point I’m trying to make is that the survey effort was subsidized by the Elections Office, the League of Women Voters, and to some extent by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.
We were happy to help out in what appeared to be somewhat of an emergency, but a government body given certain duties and responsibilities should be given the funds and other resources to carry them out. We would recommend that the budget include not only travel and other incidental costs borne by the panel members, but also anticipated costs of other activities the Panel expects to sponsor or undertake in their efforts to carry out their duties and responsibilities.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify on HB 1135.