The League of Women Voters would like to comment on H.B. 1773. While it certainly seems well intended to authorize the elections commission to investigate absentee voter violations and request the attorney general or appropriate county prosecutor to prosecute violations of absentee voter law, some of the proposed changes to Section 11-7.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes raise questions and/or appear unnecessary.
On page 1, lines 6 and 7 state the existing statute as “(2) Investigate and hold hearings for receiving evidence of any violations and complaints.” We believe the word “any” certainly covers the spectrum, and see no value added from the bill specifying “, including absentee voting violations.”
On page 2, the affirmation requirements in lines 9 through 14 appear to be impractical restrictions, especially “The voter was not within two hundred feet of a telephone;…” When someone is voting absentee, it is more likely that they would do so in the privacy of their own residence, and it is very hard to imagine that any average residence would not have a telephone within two hundred feet of a table or desk. Has this been thought through? It does not seem to pass the “reasonable” test.
We are also concerned that the punitive approach is focused on the voter, when we think the issue the bill is trying to address is the potential for outside coercion or improper influence over the absentee voter. As it is written, we do not think that H.B. 1773 accomplishes its intention.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.