Report Title:

Elections; Citizens Right to Vote

Description:

Removes existing barriers to voting. Provides ways to encourage citizens to exercise their right to vote. (SD1)

THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

1604

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2003

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

relating to citizens right to vote.

 

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

SECTION 1. Findings and purpose. The legislature finds that the citizens of the State of Hawaii do not have an absolute constitutional right to vote. The constitution allows a citizen to vote if that person is a "voter registered as provided by law." In Hawaii and all other states, and on the federal level, voting is a privilege granted to citizens, at the discretion of government, through the enactment of laws.

The legislature believes that citizens have an inherent right to vote as part of their responsibility as citizens of the State, and that this right should not be hindered without just cause. The right to vote is necessary to effectuate the rule of one person, one vote, and to enable citizens to govern through the representative form of government. The legislature, therefore, believes that a statutory right to vote should be established, that barriers to the exercise of this right should be removed, and that government should encourage citizens to exercise this right.

The purpose of this Act is to:

(1) Establish a statutory right to vote for the citizens of the State of Hawaii;

(2) Establish permanent absentee voter status;

(3) Require high schools to provide students with voter registration forms prior to graduation; and

(4) Require colleges and universities to provide voter registration forms to students during course registration;

(5) Prohibit the printing of social security numbers in poll books;

(6) Require provision for online requests for absentee ballots; and

(7) Require additional locations for early voting if funding is available.

SECTION 2. Chapter 11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"11- Citizens right to vote. All persons residing in Hawaii who are United States citizens and eighteen years of age or older shall have the right to vote in any primary, general, or special election held in the State. No state agency or political subdivision shall deny such a citizen the right to vote; provided that laws may be enacted that serve a substantial public interest and administrative rules may be adopted that are narrowly tailored to produce efficient and honest elections."

SECTION 3. Chapter 15, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"15- Permanent absentee voting. (a) Any registered voter may apply for status as a permanent absentee voter by submitting to the clerk an application in the form of an affidavit that shall include the personal information required in section 15-4. No registered voter granted permanent absentee voter status shall be required to submit a separate request for each election and shall receive an absentee ballot for each election in which the voter is eligible to vote; provided that the voter granted permanent absentee voter status shall retain that status for two election cycles. Following the second cycle, the voter may reapply for permanent absentee voter status.

(b) A voter's status as a permanent absentee voter shall be immediately terminated if any of the following conditions apply:

(1) The voter requests in writing that the status be terminated;

(2) The voter dies, loses voting rights, registers to vote in another jurisdiction, or is otherwise disqualified from voting;

(3) The voter's absentee ballot, voter notification postcard, or other election mail is returned to the county clerk as undeliverable for any reason; or

(4) The voter has retained a permanent absentee voter status for two election cycles."

SECTION 4. Section 11-15.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"[[]11-15.5[]] Duties of all state agencies; voter registration. (a) Each state agency that deals with the public shall make available to each member of the public eighteen years of age or older an application in the form of an affidavit for voter registration pursuant to section 11-15. The application shall be available by mail or in person depending on the manner in which the agency's services are requested by the person. The form of the application may be identical to that described and found in public telephone directories.

(b) In addition to the requirements of subsection (a):

(1) All high schools shall provide voter registration forms to students, who are otherwise qualified to register, prior to graduation; and

(2) All colleges and universities shall provide voter registration forms to students, who are otherwise qualified to register, during course registration."

SECTION 5. Section 11-136, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"11-136 Poll book, identification, voting. Every person upon applying to vote shall sign the person's name in the poll book prepared for that purpose. This requirement may be waived by the chairperson of the precinct officials if for reasons of illiteracy or blindness or other physical disability the voter is unable to write. Every person shall provide identification if so requested by a precinct official. No poll book shall contain the social security number of any person.

After signing the poll book and receiving the voter's ballot, the voter shall proceed to the voting booth to vote according to the voting system in use in the voter's precinct. The precinct official may, and upon request shall, explain to the voter the mode of voting."

SECTION 6. Section 15-4, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"15-4 Request for absentee ballot. Any person registered to vote may request an absentee ballot in person, online, or in writing from the clerk not earlier than on the sixtieth day and not later than 4:30 p.m. on the seventh day prior to the election. Any mailed requests for an absentee ballot shall be mailed by the person directly to the clerk. The clerk may waive any or all of the foregoing requirements in special cases as provided in the rules adopted by the chief election officer.

The request shall include information such as the person's social security number, date of birth, and the address under which the person is registered to vote. The request shall also include the address to which the person wishes the requested ballot forwarded. The request, when made for any primary or special primary election, may include an additional request for an absentee ballot to be voted at any election immediately following the primary or special primary provided the person so indicates in the person's request.

Subsequent to the closing of registration for each election, the clerk may mail a request form for an absentee ballot to each voter in a remote area who has not already made such a request. The request form shall be accompanied by:

(1) A stamped, self-addressed envelope; and

(2) Instructions regarding the manner of completing and returning the request form."

SECTION 7. Section 15-7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a) Absentee polling places shall be established at the office of the respective clerks, and [may] shall be established at [such] other sites as may be designated by the clerk under the provisions prescribed in the rules adopted by the chief election officer[.], and as funds permit. Section 11-21 relating to changes and transfers of registration shall apply to the absentee polling place as though it were the precinct at which a person's name properly appears on the list of registered voters."

SECTION 8. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 9. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.