Report Title:

Incarcerated Felons; Voting; Address Used

Description:

Authorizes an incarcerated felon who is eligible for parole to vote prior to his final discharge; authorizes an incarcerated felon to use his last address prior to incarceration for registration.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

885

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2003

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

relating to voting by incarcerated felons.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The right to vote is one of the hallmarks of a democratic society. With few exceptions, every citizen has a fundamental right to participate in the electoral process.

The legislature finds that one exception to the right to vote in Hawaii is the prohibition in the state constitution against felons voting prior to their final discharge from prison. The legislature further finds that the constitutional drafters included language to allow future legislatures to authorize voting by incarcerated felons.

The legislature believes that being imprisoned for a felony should not automatically strip a person of the fundamental right to vote. Especially in cases when a person is eligible for parole, the legislature believes that it is important to give that person the tools to succeed upon reentering society. One such tool is the esteem that attends being part of a community. Hawaii's criminal justice system has a high rate of recidivism, at least partially due to the stigma attached to having been imprisoned. The legislature finds that if former prisoners feel like a contributing part of their community, they would be less likely to engage in future criminal activity.

The purpose of this Act is to authorize incarcerated felons who are eligible for parole to vote while in prison, and to register using their residence address prior to being imprisoned.

SECTION 2. Section 11-13, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"11-13 Rules for determining residency. For the purpose of this title, there can be only one residence for an individual, but in determining residency, a person may treat oneself separate from the person's spouse. The following rules shall determine residency for election purposes only:

(1) The residence of a person is that place in which the person's habitation is fixed, and to which, whenever the person is absent, the person has the intention to return; provided that an incarcerated felon shall be allowed to use the address that the felon resided at immediately prior to sentencing;

(2) A person does not gain residence in any precinct into which the person comes without the present intention of establishing the person's permanent dwelling place within such precinct;

(3) If a person resides with the person's family in one place, and does business in another, the former is the person's place of residence; but any person having a family, who establishes the person's dwelling place other than with the person's family, with the intention of remaining there shall be considered a resident where the person has established such dwelling place;

(4) The mere intention to acquire a new residence without physical presence at such place, does not establish residency, neither does mere physical presence without the concurrent present intention to establish such place as the person's residence;

(5) A person does not gain or lose a residence solely by reason of the person's presence or absence while employed in the service of the United States or of this State, or while a student of an institution of learning, or while kept in an institution or asylum, or while confined in a prison;

(6) No member of the armed forces of the United States, the member's spouse or the member's dependent is a resident of this State solely by reason of being stationed in the State;

(7) A person loses the person's residence in this State if the person votes in an election held in another state by absentee ballot or in person.

In case of question, final determination of residence shall be made by the clerk, subject to appeal to the board of registration under part III of this chapter."

SECTION 3. Section 831-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a) A person sentenced for a felony, from the time of the person's sentence until the person's final discharge, may not[:

(1) Vote in an election, but if execution of sentence is suspended with or without the defendant being placed on probation or the defendant is paroled after commitment to imprisonment, the defendant may vote during the period of the suspension or parole; or

(2) Become] become a candidate for or hold public office. A person serving a sentence for a felony who is eligible for parole may vote in an election."

SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

INTRODUCED BY:

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