STAND. COM. REP. NO. 2474
RE: S.B. No. 217
Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi
President of the Senate
Thirtieth State Legislature
Regular Session of 2020
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Judiciary, to which was referred S.B. No. 217 entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO ARRANGEMENT OF CANDIDATE NAMES ON BALLOTS,"
begs leave to report as follows:
Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Office of Elections.
Your Committee finds that numerous studies show that the candidate listed first on a ballot has an advantage. Under existing law, candidates' names are listed in alphabetical order from top to bottom, giving advantage to whomever's surname begins at the start of the alphabet. Therefore, your Committee finds that to ensure that candidates are not given an advantage due to ballot placement of their name, placement of candidate's names should be randomized.
Your Committee notes that ideally individualized ballots should be randomized to the extent that two voters voting within the same precinct would receive ballots with a different order of candidate names; however, your Committee understands that current voting systems render such randomization impracticable. Your Committee further recognizes that precincts are no longer in use since the State adopted voting by mail; however, if precincts or another similar subdivision were to be in place, it is preferable that randomized ballots be rotated between such subdivisions to lessen any advantage gained by a candidate being listed first. Your Committee supports any efforts to ensure a level playing field regarding candidates' name placement on the ballot.
Your Committee has amended this measure by:
(1) Deleting language that would have required ballots to be randomly rotated from one precinct to another;
(2) Deleting the exception subjecting the chief election officer to the limitations of the voting system in use;
(3) Clarifying that the chief election officer may complete any existing contract with a vendor who is unable to implement the random ballot requirement;
(4) Specifying that the random ballot requirement shall apply to the election cycle beginning January 1, 2022;
(5) Amending section 1 to reflect its amended purpose; and
(6) Inserting an effective date of January 1, 2021.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Judiciary that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 217, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 217, S.D. 1, and be placed on the calendar for Third Reading.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Judiciary,
KARL RHOADS, Chair