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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Voting by Mail?

Voting by mail is an extension of our current absentee voting system. A ballot is automatically mailed to every eligible voter (no request or extra application is necessary) approximately 3 weeks prior to an election. In-person voting sites will be available for voters who would like to vote in-person and to provide additional services to voters.

Does voting by mail create an additional step in voting compared to in-person voting?

There is no additional process of validating signatures when voting by mail compared to in-person voting. Both require that an individual sign for their ballot when accepting (or returning) the ballot. It would be more efficient to focus resources on voting by mail rather than the three different approaches currently used: absentee voting, absentee walk-in voting, and election polling place voting. The Office of Elections estimates approximately $800 thousand would be saved in each election cycle by converting to voting by mail. This would be a permanent, recurring savings.

Is voting by mail less secret that voting in a polling both?

It is true that voting by mail makes it easier for another person such as a household member to intimidate a voter by demanding to see the voter’s ballot or even taking custody of the voter’s ballot. However, the Office of Elections already provides customized assistance to a voter who is experiencing this problem.

Isn’t voter fraud common in the states that use voting by mail?

Voter fraud is extremely rare in the three states that have adopted voting by mail:
  • Oregon’s Secretary of State reported there were 2 cases of voter fraud in 2016; neither required criminal prosecution. Source: kobi5.com/news

  • Washington’s Secretary of State said there’s no evidence any voter fraud took place anywhere in the state in the 2016 general election; Source: www.washingtontimes.com

  • Colorado There are 3.8 million registered voters in Colorado and there was a robust voter turnout in the November 2016 general election. The Secretary of State reported that according to statistics compiled by the Colorado District Attorneys Council, between January 2012 and Nov. 5, 2016, there were 32 charges of various voting offenses. Those charges resulted in four convictions. Those figures do not include cases investigated by the state Attorney General’s office, which reported in early November that it had filed charges in two voter fraud cases since 2012, both of which were pending. Both involved allegations about the ballot initiative process and the collection of signatures. Source: www.denverpost.com

Will voting by mail relax and reduce operational protections against fraud?

No. Citizen oversight will continue to be required and provided with voting by mail. Election observers from the community oversee voter service centers, control and counting center volunteers, just as they do presently with Hawaii’s current voting system.

What other precautions does Hawaii take to prevent fraud?

Before a ballot is counted elections clerks look at signatures on the external ballot envelope to make sure that person is a registered voter. Questionable signatures are forwarded to county attorneys for further investigation and possible prosecution. Because most of the flagged signatures are data-entry errors or the result of a misunderstanding, charges are rare. The most important safeguard is that voter fraud is a felony punishable by fines and/or jail time. If you are worried that your registration signature may not be recognized as your current signature, you may submit a new application to vote with a current signature.

Will a voter have any remedy if they don’t receive a ballot in the mail or if their ballot is stolen or lost?

If voters do not receive their ballot within a reasonable window before Election Day, they may contact their County Clerk to request a replacement ballot which will be sent after the original ballot is cancelled. If the voter believes their mailed ballot was stolen, they may request that the County Clerk investigate. Voters can also visit a voter service center during the early voting period or on Election Day, request that their lost ballot be voided, and complete a new ballot.

Is it possible to receive more than one ballot in the mail?

This is possible, but if voters should complete and return more than 1 ballot, only the first ballot received from the registered voter is processed and counted.

If I change my mind about my vote before Election Day will it be possible to correct my ballot if I’ve already mailed it in?

Yes. If the voter changes his or her mind about a candidate or issue between the time they return their ballot and Election Day, they may go to a voter service center during the early voting period or on Election Day, request that their first ballot be voided, and complete a new ballot. If there is sufficient time left before Election Day they may request that a new ballot be mailed (or emailed) to them.


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