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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

SB 509

Relating to
Proposed Constitutional Amendments

Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor (JDL) - chair: Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran, vice chair: Maile S.L. Shimabukuro

Friday, February 13, 2015, 9:00 a.m., Room 016

Testifier: Sue Irvine, Legislative Committee Member, LWV of Hawaii

Click here to view SB509

Chair Name/Names, Vice-Chair Name or Names, and Committee Members:

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii strongly supports SB509 which would require preparation of a statement for each proposed state constitutional amendment in plain English, indicating the purpose, limitations and effects of the proposed amendment. The bill also requires the Attorney General to distribute these statement to the Office of Elections and County Clerks, who would in turn be required to make the statements available to the public in physical or online sites.

Many voters are unaware of proposed constitutional amendments or proposed charter amendments before Election Day, in spite of efforts by State and County election officials to inform the public about the proposals. We have received 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. Voters often do not understand the proposals, so have no idea how to vote on them. This measure addresses both concerns, by making a “plain English” statement available to the public and also requiring that this statement be more widely circulated by election officials.

The League suggests an amendment to this bill concerning county charter amendments. We think a similar “plain English” statement is required for these proposals as well and suggest that the chief legal officer of the County where the charter amendment is proposed be responsible for preparing such a statement and the County Clerk be responsible for circulating the charter statement to the public in all physical or online sites where the Clerk makes the proposed charter amendment questions available to the public.

We urge you to pass/hold this bill. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.


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