HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

1481

TWENTY-EIGHTH LEGISLATURE, 2015

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to elections.

 

 

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

 


SECTION 1. Chapter 11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"pART . Election by mail

11-    Elections to be conducted by mail. (a) All elections, as that term is defined in section 11-302, shall be conducted by mail in accordance with this part.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), the chief election officer shall select not less than one location in each representative district to be open on an election day to provide walk-in voting and to receive ballots.

11-    Procedures for conducting election by mail. (a) Ballot packages shall include:

(1) An official ballot;

(2) A pre-paid postage return identification envelope;

(3) A secrecy envelope; and

(4) Instructions.

(b) Except as provided in subsections (c), (d), and (e) the county clerk shall mail by nonforwardable mail a ballot package to each registered voter between eighteen and fourteen days before the date of the election; provided that the deadlines established under chapter 15D shall apply to the covered voters, as that term is defined in section 15D-2.

(c) If the county clerk determines that a voter does not receive daily mail service from the United States Postal Service, the county clerk shall mail by nonforwardable mail a ballot package to the voter between twenty days and eighteen days before the date of the election.

(d) If the voter requests that a ballot package be mailed outside of the State, the county clerk shall mail by nonforwardable mail a ballot package to the voter not later than the twenty-ninth day before the election.

(e) Notwithstanding subsections (b), (c), and (d), ballot packages may be delivered or made available to voters who are unable to receive ballot packages by mail and who request a ballot package be delivered or made available for pick-up by the voter. A ballot package that is made available to a voter shall be made available in a manner and by a method that will ensure confidentiality as provided in section 11-14.5. The receipt of the ballot package by pick-up shall be available to the voter until three days before the election to enable the voter to vote on or before the date of the election.

(f) To complete the ballot package following receipt by mail, delivery, or pick-up, the voter shall:

(1) Mark the ballot;

(2) Sign the return identification envelope supplied with the ballot; and

(3) Comply with the instructions provided with the ballot.

(g) The voter may return the marked ballot to the county clerk by the United States Postal Service not later than the end of the period determined by the chief election officer or by depositing the ballot at any location designated by the chief election officer or county clerk not later than the time stated in section 11-131 on the date of the election; provided that:

(1) The chief election officer or county clerk shall designate not less than one location in each representative district for the deposit of ballots under this subsection; and

(2) Each location designated pursuant to paragraph (1) shall offer the use of secure receptacles for the deposit of ballots at any time of the day.

11-    Instructions. (a) The instructions shall include directions on marking the ballot, inserting the marked ballot in the secrecy envelope, inserting the secrecy envelope with the marked ballot in the return identification envelope, and signing the return identification envelope before mailing or delivering the return identification envelope containing the secrecy envelope with the marked ballot.

(b) The instructions shall include information on election fraud and voter fraud as provided in sections 19-3(5) and 19-3.5, and state that a violation of either section may subject the voter, upon conviction, to imprisonment, a fine, or both.

11-    Public notice of distribution. Public notice of any date on which ballot packages are mailed, delivered, or made available shall be provided by the chief election officer and all county election offices when all ballot packages have been mailed, delivered, and made available to voters. Public notices required under this section shall be executed in accordance with sections 1-28.5 and 15D-15.

11-    Replacement ballots. (a) A voter may obtain a replacement ballot if the ballot is destroyed, spoiled, lost, or not received by the clerk. To vote by replacement ballot, the voter shall complete and sign a replacement ballot request form. The request for a replacement ballot may be made by mail, in person, or by other means in accordance with rules adopted by the chief election officer.

(b) Upon receipt of a request for a replacement ballot, the county clerk or a designee appointed by the clerk shall:

(1) Verify the registration of the voter and ensure that another ballot has not been returned to the voter;

(2) Note on the list of registered voters that the voter has requested a replacement ballot;

(3) Mark the return identification envelope so that it may be identified as a replacement ballot; and

(4) Issue a replacement ballot.

11-    Counting of ballots. (a) The method of preparing ballots for counting may begin no sooner than the seventh day before the election. In the presence of official observers, counting center employees may start to count the ballots on the day of the election. All handling and counting of the ballots shall be conducted in accordance with procedures prescribed by the chief election officer by rule.

(b) A ballot shall be counted if:

(1) It is received by the county clerk not later than the end of the period determined by the chief election officer;

(2) It is received in the return identification envelope;

(3) The envelope is signed by the voter to whom the ballot is issued; and

(4) The signature of the voter is verified pursuant to subsection (c).

(c) The county clerk, or a designee appointed by the county clerk, shall verify the signature on the return identification envelope in accordance with procedures prescribed by the chief election officer by rule.

(d) Upon receipt of a marked replacement ballot, the county clerk or a designated appointee shall verify that a completed and signed replacement ballot request form has been received by the county clerk or is included with the marked replacement ballot. If a request form has been completed and signed by the voter and received by the county clerk, the county clerk or a designated appointee shall process the ballot. If the replacement ballot request form is not completed or signed by the voter or not received by the county clerk, the county clerk or a designated appointee shall not process the ballot.

11-    Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act; application. To the extent that this part and chapter 15D conflict with regard to the application of any requirement established pursuant to this part to a covered voter, as that term is defined in section 15D-2, chapter 15D shall govern."

SECTION 2. Chapter 19, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"19- Election by mail offense. Any person who opens a return envelope containing a ballot voted by mail under part     , other than those persons authorized to do so under part     , shall be guilty of a class B felony."

SECTION 3. Section 11-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended as follows:

1. By adding a new definition to be appropriately inserted and to read:

""Election by mail" means an election conducted principally by mail."

2. By amending the definition of "ballot" to read:

""Ballot", a ballot including a ballot used in an election conducted by mail and an absentee ballot, is a written or printed, or partly written and partly printed paper or papers containing the names of persons to be voted for, the office to be filled, and the questions or issues to be voted on. A ballot may consist of one or more cards or pieces of paper, or one face of a card or piece of paper, or a portion of the face of a card or piece of paper, depending on the number of offices, candidates to be elected thereto, questions or issues to be voted on, and the voting system in use. It shall also include the face of the mechanical voting machine when arranged with cardboard or other material within the ballot frames, containing the names of the candidates and questions to be voted on."

3. By amending the definition of "voting system" to read:

""Voting system", the use of paper ballots, electronic ballot cards, voting machines, voting by mail, or any system by which votes are cast and counted."

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

"11‑4 Rules [and regulations]. The chief election officer may make, amend, and repeal [such] rules [and regulations] governing elections held under this title, election procedures, and the selection, establishment, use, and operation of all voting systems now in use or to be adopted in the State, and all other similar matters relating thereto as in the chief election officer's judgment shall be necessary to carry out this title.

In making, amending, and repealing rules [and regulations] for voters who cannot [vote at the polls in person] receive or return ballots by mail, and all other voters, the chief election officer shall provide for voting by [such] these persons in [such] a manner [as to insure] that ensures secrecy of the ballot and [to preclude] precludes tampering with the ballots of these voters and other election frauds. [Such] These rules [and regulations], when adopted in conformity with chapter 91 and upon approval by the governor, shall have the force and effect of law."

SECTION 5. Section 11-17, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a) The clerk, not later than 4:30 p.m. on the sixtieth day after every general election, shall remove the name of any registered voter who did not vote in that general election, and also did not vote in the primary election preceding that general election, and also did not vote in the previous general election, and also did not vote in the primary election preceding that general election, and also did not vote in the regularly scheduled special elections held in conjunction with those primary and general elections, if any, with the exception of:

(1) Those who submitted written requests for absentee ballots as provided in section 15-4; or

(2) Anyone who preregistered pursuant to section 11-12(b).

If a person voted, at least once, in any of the above-mentioned elections, the person's name shall remain on the list of registered voters. For this purpose, "vote" means the depositing of the ballot in the ballot box whether the ballot is blank or later rejected for any reason. In the case of voting machines, "vote" means the voter has activated the proper mechanism and fed the vote into the machine. In the case of an election by mail pursuant to part     , "vote" means the voter has returned the ballot to the chief election officer or county clerk by the United States Postal Service or by depositing the ballot at a location designated for ballot deposit by the chief election officer or county clerk."

SECTION 6. Section 11-92.1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending the title and subsection (a) to read as follows:

"11-92.1 Election proclamation; [establishment of a new precinct.] precincts. (a) The chief election officer shall issue a proclamation whenever a new precinct is established in any representative district. The chief election officer, or the county clerk in a county election, shall provide a suitable polling place for each precinct[.] in a general election, and for not less than one location in each representative district in a primary election. Schools, recreational halls, park facilities, and other publicly owned or controlled buildings, whenever possible and convenient, shall be used as polling places. The chief election officer, or the county clerk in a county election, shall make arrangements for the rental or erection of suitable shelter for this purpose whenever public buildings are not available and shall cause these polling places to be equipped with the necessary facilities for lighting, ventilation, and equipment needed for elections on any island. This proclamation may be issued jointly with the proclamation required in section 11-91."

SECTION 7. Section 11-184, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"11-184 Election expenses and responsibilities in combined state and county elections. Election expenses in elections involving both state and county offices shall be shared as set forth below:

(1) The State shall pay and be responsible for:

(A) Precinct officials;

(B) Instruction of precinct officials when initiated or approved by the chief election officer;

(C) Boards of registration;

(D) Polling place costs other than supplies: installation rentals, ballot boxes, voting booths, custodians, telephones, and maintenance;

(E) Other equipment such as ballot transport containers;

(F) Temporary election employees hired to do strictly state work; and

(G) Extraordinary voter registration and voter education costs when approved by the chief election officer.

(2) The county shall pay and be responsible for:

(A) Normal voter registration, voters list maintenance, and all printing connected with voter registration, including printing of the voters list;

(B) Temporary election employees hired to do strictly county work;

(C) Maintenance of existing voting machines, including parts, freight, storage, programming, and personnel;

(D) Maintenance and storage of voting devices and other equipment; and

(E) Employees assigned to conduct absentee or voting by mail polling place functions.

(3) The remaining election expenses shall be divided in half between the State and the counties. Each county will pay a proration of expenses as a proportion of the registered voters at the time of the general election. These expenses shall include but not be limited to:

(A) Polling place supplies;

(B) All printing, including ballots, but excluding printing connected with voter registration;

(C) Temporary election employees not including voting machine programmers doing work for both the State and county;

(D) Ballot preparation and packing; and

(E) All other costs for which the State or county are not specifically responsible relating to the operation of voting machines, electronic voting systems, and other voting systems except paper ballots to include but not be limited to real property rentals, equipment rentals, personnel, mileage, telephones, supplies, publicity, computer programming, and freight.

The responsibility for the above functions shall be determined by the chief election officer where the responsibility for such functions has not been assigned by the legislature.

Any future expenses not presently incurred under any voting system now in use or to be used shall be assigned to [paragraphs] paragraph (1), (2), or (3) [above] by the chief election officer upon agreement with the clerks or by the legislature."

SECTION 8. Section 11-91.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is repealed.

["11-91.5 Federal, state, and county elections by mail. (a) Any federal, state, or county election held other than on the date of a regularly scheduled primary or general election may be conducted by mail.

(b) The chief election officer shall determine whether a federal or state election, other than a regularly scheduled primary or general election, may be conducted by mail or at polling places.

(c) The county clerk shall determine whether a county election, held other than on the date of a regularly scheduled primary or general election, may be conducted by mail or at polling places. An election by mail in the county shall be under the supervision of the county clerk.

(d) Any ballot cast by mail under this section shall be subject to the provisions applicable to absentee ballots under sections 11-139 and 15-6.

(e) The chief election officer shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to provide for uniformity in the conduct of federal, state, and county elections by mail."]

SECTION 9. Section 11-92.3, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is repealed.

["11-92.3 Consolidated precincts; natural disasters; postponement; absentee voting required; special elections. (a) In the event of a flood, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, high wind, or other natural disaster, occurring prior to an election, that makes a precinct inaccessible, the chief election officer or county clerk in the case of county elections may consolidate precincts within a representative district. If the extent of damage caused by any natural disaster is such that the ability of voters, in any precinct, district, or county, to exercise their right to vote is substantially impaired, the chief election officer or county clerk in the case of county elections may require the registered voters of the affected precinct to vote by absentee ballot pursuant to section 15-2.5 and may postpone the conducting of an election in the affected precinct for no more than twenty-one days; provided that any such postponement shall not affect the conduct of the election, tabulation, or distribution of results for those precincts, districts, or counties not designated for postponement. The chief election officer or county clerk in the case of county elections shall give notice of the consolidation, postponement, or requirement to vote by absentee ballot, in the affected county or precinct prior to the opening of the precinct polling place by whatever possible news or broadcast media are available. Precinct officials and workers affected by any consolidation shall not forfeit their pay.

(b) In the event the chief election officer or the county clerk in a county election determines that the number of candidates or issues on the ballot in a special, special primary, or special general election does not require the full number of established precincts, the precincts may be consolidated for the purposes of the special, special primary, or special general election into a small number of special, special primary, or special general election precincts.

A special, special primary, or special general election precinct shall be considered the same as an established precinct for all purposes, including precinct official requirements provided in section 11-71. Not later than 4:30 p.m. on the tenth day prior to the special, special primary, or special general election, the chief election officer or the county clerk shall give public notice, in the area in which the special, special primary, or special general election is to be held, of the special, special primary, or special general election precincts and their polling places. Notices of the consolidation also shall be posted on election day at the established precinct polling places, giving the location of the special, special primary, or special general election precinct polling place."]

SECTION 10. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2015-2016 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2016-2017 for the purpose of implementing and administering elections by mail pursuant to this Act.

The sums appropriated shall be expended by the office of elections for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 11. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.

SECTION 12. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 13. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2015.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________

 

 


 


 

Report Title:

Elections; Voting by Mail; Appropriation

 

Description:

Establishes an election by mail voting system for all elections.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.