Chair Oshiro, Vice chair Lee, members of Committee on Finance,
It is with some reservations that The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports HB 54 which provides for voter registration through an electronic system publicly available on the website of the Office of Elections.
The bill requires registrants to provide enough information, when confirmed, to identify the individuals and to prove the place of residence of each registrant. So that is not the problem. The problem is the requirement for the possession of either a driver's license or a certificate of identification.
It does cost money to acquire a driver's license or a State Identification certificate. If you are getting the driver's license because you intend to drive, or if you need the State I.D. for some other purpose, you can also use it for registering. However, there are people who neither drive, nor need a State I.D. Requiring them to get one of these to register to vote is like imposing a poll tax which was once used as a deliberate means of disenfranchising whole groups of citizens. And in today's polarized political atmosphere nationally, it is not too far-fetched to imagine its use in disguised form. Of course, this problem could be alleviated by the State assuming the costs for the acquisition of these documents.
Since this is only one means of registering to vote, and because of the restrictions on the use of certified citizen registrars which has diminished the once-effective efforts by non-profit organizations to register voters, we feel that any additional means of registering citizens could only help increase voter participation. As long as all of the other avenues are equally available, we feel we can endorse the electronic system of registering voters. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on HB 545.