Chair Rhoads, Vice-Chair Har and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii strongly supports HB300 that requires the publication of information on the proposed constitutional or proposed charter amendments that appear on an election ballot. Many voters are unaware of proposed constitutional amendments or proposed charter amendments. Recently, for example, the Hawaii County League of Women Voters staffed voter registration tables at our Kona K Mart. In preparation for this we also drew up a leaflet that listed ballot issues with short pros and cons. We proceeded to hand them out to all that we could as they exited the store. We found out that almost no one even knew that any issues were on the ballot. Unfortunately,
since the League has no money for widespread distribution of such information, we were only able to provide enough leaflets for our local libraries and the handouts at our voter registration tables.
After the election, we had some feedback from poll workers who complained about how long it took people to vote because they had no idea there were ballot or charter measures on the ballot. They also had no idea how to vote on them on such short notice. Even our local newspaper had no mention of the ballot issues.
The ballot and charter education should explain what each proposed change means in simple, everyday language. Additionally, “pros and cons” for each change should be presented in a factual, nonpartisan fashion. For years, the League has advocated voter information, especially on issues, and has provided this information ourselves, when possible. But it would be better if this was a routine aspect of voter service
provided to all Hawaii residents by the State Office of Elections in both online and paper formats. In recent years this office has sometimes told there was never "enough money. “ But what can be more important than an informed electorate? We strongly support this bill and urge you to do so too. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.