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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

HB 1755 HD1

Relating to
Voter Registration

House Committee on Finance (FIN) - chair: Marcus R. Oshiro, vice chair: Marilyn B. Lee

Friday, February 24, 2012, 12:00.pm., Conference Room 308

Testifier: Carmille Lim, Voter Services Chair, LWV of Hawaii

Click here to view HB1755 HD1

Dear Chair Oshiro, Vice Chair Lee, and Members of the Committee:

Aloha, my name is Carmille Lim, board member and Voter Services Chair of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii, and I thank you for this opportunity to testify on behalf of our members throughout Hawaii.

On behalf of the League, I am respectfully submitting my testimony in support of H81755, HD1. This bill would establish an online system for electronic voter registration, which would allow eligible voters to register entirely online instead of using hard-copy paper forms. If implemented, we can expect to see a decrease in monies spent on paper forms and an increase in voter registration and turnout.

There are currently 12 states that have implemented online voter registration, and we hope that Hawaii will soon follow. The League of Women Voters supports this bill for the following 4 reasons:

I . Online voter registration is cost-effective and saves states millions of dollars each year:
• In recent years, states like California, Louisiana, Indiana, and Colorado have implemented the reform to great success — and this has also resulted in significant savings. For example: in Maricopa County, Arizona, processing an online voter registration now costs the state 3 cents, compared to 83 cents for each paper registration. Due to its popularity, online registration has helped reduce printing costs by 75% in the county. Washington State has also experienced a similar cost reduction at both the state and county level. Washington’s Secretary of State’s office (Washington’s Secretary of State serves as the state’s chief elections officer) reports saving 25 cents per online application, while counties have saved anywhere from 50 cents to $2 with each application.1
• Additionally, it cost Arizona less than $130,000 and Washington state $279,000 to implement both online voter registration and automated voter registration at DMVs.2

2. Streamlines the registration process for election officials:
• Online voter registration ensures that citizens’ information goes directly to election officials, thus reducing the number of people who have to handle a registration application. This greatly reduces the chances for human and data entry errors.
• Allowing Hawaii residents to register to vote or update their registrations online would likely reduce the number of provisional ballots cast at the polls, which can prove costly and time-consuming to process.

3. Would likely increase the accuracy of voter lists:
• Again, online voter registration would significantly reduce the data entry work county officials must do to process new registrations.
• Hawai’i already has an electronic record of the signature for most people with a Hawai’i state driver’s license or state-issued ID card. So by transferring electronic data between the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Office of Elections, we can allow people to register to vote online without the delays and errors that can occur when mailing in a handwritten paper form which then has to be entered by hand into a registration database.

4. Due to its convenience, online voter registration would likely increase voter participation, especially from those of the “younger” generation:
• Completing an online voter registration form makes it easier for many voters to register-- particularly among the “younger” generation and those who spend more time online.
• In 2003, Arizona was the first state to implement Online Voter Registration, and reported an improvement in voter turnout-- greatest among young voters. In 2008, voters under 34 years old who registered online turned out at 93 percent compared to a 73 percent turnout rate for younger voters who registered “offline.”3
• Registration rates among 18-24 year-old citizens rose from 28 to 53 percent after Arizona introduced online and automated registration.

In these tough times, online voter registration is an important step in making voter registration more modern and cost-effective. We support the online voter registration to register new voters and allow existing voters to update their registrations online.

We have a few specific comments about amendments to the original measure:

In Section 11-24 (c), we note that as a way to protect voter privacy, the preparation of a list of registered voters for use by precinct officials has been deleted, together with a posting of this list at precinct polling places.

We request that instead, each precinct publish a list of all registered voters in each precinct district, but without the indiyiduals’ addresses. We advise that elections officials post a list containing the names of those who reside in that precinct district, at each precinct, in order to eliminate some of the time required for precinct officials to answer questions about one’s correct polling place, while saving voters the time it takes to wait in line at an incorrect polling place.

Additionally, we ask that precinct workers assigned to poll books are allowed to keep a list of individuals’ names and addresses for their own purpose, or for people to view (by visiting with that worker). This addresses the need to protect voter privacy to some extent, while still allowing for one to verify voter fraud (by vetting the address of someone listed).

Finally, the League supports the November 8, 2016 effective date as a realistic target for studying, developing and testing the new online registration system.

The League of Women Voters of HawaII humbly asks you to continue supporting this bill.

Mahalo for this opportunity to testify.

1 Anonymous. “cost Savings Win Bipartisan Support for Online voter Registration.” Progressive States Network. March 3, 2011. http://www.progressivestates.org/news/dispatch/cost-savings-win-bipartisan support-online-voter-registration
2 Ponoroff. “Voter Registration in a Digital Age.” Brennan Center for Justice. July 13, 2010. http://www.brennancenter.org/contentlresource/voter_registration_in_a_digital_age/
3 Baretto, Glaser, Mac Donald, Colllngwood, Pedraza, Pump. “Online Voter Registration Systems in Arizona and Washington: Evaluating Usage, Public Confidence and Implementation Process.” Wiser Institute of the Study of Ethnicity and Race& Election Administration Research Center. April 10, 2010. http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewcenteronthestatesorg/Initiatives/MVW/online_voter_reg.pdf?n+2908


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