Chair Name/Names, Vice-Chair Name or Names, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii strongly supports the intent of SB827, which is to protect voters while registering to vote, or while voting (using either an in-person ballot or by an absentee ballot). This measure would make it a misdemeanor for a candidate to physically handle or possess the voter registration form, voter ballot, or absentee ballot of another person.
The League of Women Voters supports adequate safeguards to preserve the integrity of the ballot to insure fairness to all voters, and to minimize the opportunity for fraud. Last week the League testified in support of HB1027, which would provide protection to voters requiring assistance to complete their ballot. HB1027 would prohibit candidates for office from improperly assisting voters in the completion of the voter’s ballot. HB1027, HD1 would add voter fraud penalties (not misdemeanors) for candidates who improperly assist voters in completing their ballot. To us, such improper “assistance” verges on intimidation and should be against the law. HB1027, HD1 did not speak to individuals requiring assistance with voter registration, and in retrospect we wish we had suggested this additional precaution.
Should a candidate merely handling or possessing another person’s voter registration ballot be prohibited? In our opinion, yes. We say this knowing that there may be occasions when a candidate’s immediate family or friends may ask them for assistance because they are physically disabled, for example. But such situations would not be routine for a candidate. We also recognize enforcing these prohibitions may be difficult. But out of an abundance of caution, the League of Women Voters does not think a candidate should handle or possess anyone else’s registration material or ballot. If asked for assistance handling registration material or a ballot, thecandidate should contact the County Clerk or State Office of Elections to arrange assistance for the person.
We concur with the misdemeanor penalties proposed in this bill. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.