THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

958

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2019

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO ELECTIONS.

 

 

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

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that all states make an effort to inform the electorate about upcoming elections, where and when the elections will be held, and how to vote. Each state determines what information will be provided and how it will be distributed. Many states provide sample ballots that are posted in polling places, published in newspapers, printed and distributed by request, or printed and mailed to each household or registered voter. In Hawaii, the chief election officer or county clerk, in the case of a county election, is required to have printed informational posters with facsimile ballots that depict the official ballots that will be used in the election. Precinct officials are required to post these informational posters near the entrance to the polling place so that voters may easily see the posters prior to voting.

The legislature further finds that other states publish and distribute voters' pamphlets to registered voters. Voters' pamphlets may include candidate information, judicial performance reviews, descriptions of elected offices, or background information on constitutional amendments or ballot measures. The purpose of these pamphlets is to allow voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote by informing them about each of the ballot measures and candidates seeking office, reading both sides of an argument to each of the ballot measures, and learning where each of the candidates stand on the issues that affect the voters.

The purpose of this Act is to increase the amount of information provided to registered voters in Hawaii by:

(1) Requiring the chief election officer to publish an online voters' pamphlet on the internet;

(2) Requiring the chief election officer to disseminate postcards to voters notifying them of the online pamphlet's website address; and

(3) Appropriating funds to allow the chief election officer to publish an online voters' pamphlet and distribute the informational postcards for each election.

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

"Part   . online voters' pamphlet

11-A Definitions. As used in this part, unless the context requires otherwise:

"Ballot issue" means a proposed constitutional amendment, county charter amendment, or initiative or referendum issue listed on a ballot at the next applicable election.

11-B Online voters' pamphlet; content; form. (a) The chief election officer, with assistance from the clerk for elections involving county offices and countywide ballot issues, shall be responsible for publication of the online voters' pamphlet for each election.

(b) The online voters' pamphlet shall contain:

(1) Information regarding each ballot issue listed on a ballot in accordance with section 11-112;

(2) Candidate statements from candidates whose names are listed on a ballot in accordance with section 11-112;

(3) Contact information for the campaign spending commission;

(4) Contact information for the political parties that are subject to part V of this chapter; and

(5) Any information, including voter registration information, voting instructions, and voter education, as deemed necessary by the chief election officer.

(c) The chief election officer shall determine the format and layout of the online voters' pamphlet.

(d) The online voters' pamphlet shall be posted on the public website of the office of elections and links to the online voters' pamphlet shall be posted in a conspicuous location on the office of elections website homepage.

11-C Online voters' pamphlet postcards; publication; distribution. The chief election officer, with assistance from the clerk for elections involving county offices and countywide ballot issues, shall publish and distribute a postcard containing the website address of the online voters' pamphlet for each election. The chief election officer shall distribute the postcards using any means, as determined by the chief election officer, that will best serve the interests of all registered voters and meet federal or state election requirements. The means of distribution shall include but not be limited to:

(1) Through postal mail;

(2) At public libraries, polling places, or absentee polling places;

(3) In braille, large print, or audio recording;

(4) In a daily or weekly publication of statewide circulation or countywide circulation in the affected county; or

(5) In electronic form.

The chief election officer shall distribute the postcards no later than       days prior to each election.

11-D Ballot issue; information. The online voters' pamphlet shall include the following information for each ballot issue:

(1) The number and title of the ballot issue;

(2) An explanatory statement prepared by the attorney general for a statewide ballot issue or corporation counsel or county attorney for a countywide ballot issue in accordance with section 11-E;

(3) A fiscal impact statement prepared by the attorney general for a statewide ballot issue or corporation counsel or county attorney for a countywide ballot issue in accordance with section 11-F;

(4) The total number of votes cast for and against the ballot issue on the last reading of the ballot issue in the senate and house of representatives for a statewide ballot issue, or county council or charter commission for a countywide ballot issue, as applicable;

(5) An argument advocating the voters' approval of the ballot issue together with any statement in rebuttal of the opposing argument in accordance with section 11-G;

(6) An argument advocating the voters' rejection of the ballot issue together with any statement in rebuttal of the opposing argument in accordance with section 11-G;

(7) The names of the committee members established under section 11-G(b) for each argument or rebuttal statement; and

(8) The full text of the ballot issue.

11-E Ballot issue; explanatory statement. (a) An explanatory statement shall be prepared by the attorney general for each statewide ballot issue or corporation counsel or county attorney for each countywide ballot issue listed on a ballot in accordance with section 11-112. The attorney general, corporation counsel, or county attorney shall write the explanatory statements in clear and concise language and avoid the use of legal and technical terms whenever possible. The chief election officer shall prescribe the content and maximum length of these statements.

(b) The chief election officer shall receive all explanatory statements prepared by the attorney general for statewide ballot issues or corporation counsel or county attorney for countywide ballot issues by a date determined by the chief election officer for each election. The chief election officer may authorize the clerk to receive explanatory statements for countywide ballot issues for each respective county, as applicable; provided that these explanatory statements are received by the chief election officer by the date determined by the chief election officer for each election.

11-F Ballot issue; fiscal impact statement. (a) A fiscal impact statement shall be prepared by the attorney general for each statewide ballot issue or corporation counsel or county attorney for each countywide ballot issue listed on a ballot in accordance with section 11-112. The attorney general or corporation counsel or county attorney, as applicable, shall consult with appropriate fiscal state or county agencies in preparing the fiscal impact statements. The attorney general, corporation counsel, or county attorney shall write fiscal impact statements in clear and concise language and avoid the use of legal and technical terms whenever possible. Fiscal impact statements may include easily understood graphics. The chief election officer shall prescribe the content and maximum length of these statements.

(b) The chief election officer shall receive all fiscal impact statements prepared by the attorney general for statewide ballot issues or corporation counsel or county attorney for countywide ballot issues by a date determined by the chief election officer for each election. The chief election officer may authorize the clerk to receive fiscal impact statements for countywide ballot issues for each respective county, as applicable; provided that these fiscal impact statements are received by the chief election officer by the date determined by the chief election officer for each election.

11-G Ballot issue; argument statements in support or opposition; rebuttals; committees. (a) The chief election officer, in consultation with state and county legislative bodies and clerks, shall appoint the initial two members of each argument statement committee. In making these committee appointments, the chief election officer shall consider legislators and stakeholders known to advocate for or oppose the ballot issue. The initial two members may select up to four additional members, and the committee shall elect a chairperson.

(b) Committees shall write and submit argument statements advocating the approval or rejection of each statewide or countywide ballot issue and rebuttals of those argument statements. The committees shall obtain the explanatory and fiscal impact statements prepared in accordance with sections 11-E and 11-F, respectively, before preparing their argument statements. The committees shall write the argument statements in clear and concise language and avoid the use of legal and technical terms whenever possible. The content and maximum length of these argument statements shall be prescribed by the chief election officer.

(c) After a committee submits its initial argument statement to the chief election officer, the chief election officer shall transmit the statement to the opposite committee. The opposite committee may then prepare a rebuttal statement. Rebuttal statements may not interject new points. All argument and rebuttal statements shall be submitted to the chief election officer by dates determined by the chief election officer for each election.

(d) The online voters' pamphlet shall only contain argument and rebuttal statements prepared in accordance with this section. Argument and rebuttal statements may contain graphs and charts supported by factual statistical data and pictures or other illustrations; provided that illustrations shall not include cartoons or caricatures.

11-H Candidate statements. (a) Candidates whose names are listed on a ballot in accordance with section 11-112 may write and submit a statement and photograph advocating their candidacy. The content and maximum length of the candidate statement shall be prescribed by the chief election officer.

(b) A candidate statement shall not contain false or misleading statements about the candidate's opponent. A candidate who believes that the candidate has been defamed or libeled under an opponent's statement may commence an action under section 11-I.

(c) All candidate statements shall be submitted to the chief election officer by a date determined by the chief election officer for each election.

11-I Rejection or dispute of arguments or statements. (a) In the opinion of the chief election officer, if any argument, rebuttal, or candidate statement submitted pursuant to this part for inclusion in the online voters' pamphlet contains obscene matter or matter that is otherwise prohibited by law for distribution through postal, electronic, or audio or visual means, the chief election officer may petition the circuit court of competent jurisdiction for a judicial determination that the argument, rebuttal, or candidate statement may be rejected for publication or edited to delete the matter. The court shall not enter an order unless it concludes that the matter is obscene or otherwise prohibited for distribution.

(b) A candidate may petition the circuit court of competent jurisdiction for a judicial determination if the candidate believes an argument, rebuttal, or candidate statement submitted for inclusion in the online voters' pamphlet defames the candidate. The court shall not enter an order unless it concludes that the statement is untrue and the petitioner has a very substantial likelihood of prevailing in a defamation action. An action under this subsection shall be filed and served no later than       days after the deadline for the submission of the argument, rebuttal, or candidate statement to the chief election officer. If the chief election officer notifies a person named or identified in an argument, rebuttal, or candidate statement of the contents of the statement within       days after the deadline for submission to the chief election officer, the State shall not be liable for damages resulting from the publication of the argument, rebuttal, or candidate statement unless the chief election officer publishes the statement in violation of the order entered under this subsection. Nothing in this subsection shall create a duty on the part of the chief election officer to identify, locate, or notify the person.

(c) Parties to a dispute under this section may agree to resolve the dispute by rephrasing the argument, rebuttal, or candidate statement, even if the deadline for submission to the chief election officer has lapsed, unless the chief election officer determines that the process of publication is too far advanced to permit the change. The chief election officer shall promptly provide any revision to any committee entitled to submit a rebuttal statement. If that committee has not yet submitted its rebuttal statement, its deadline to submit a rebuttal statement is extended by       days. If it has submitted a rebuttal statement, the committee may revise the rebuttal statement to address the change within       days of the filing of the revised argument with the chief election officer.

(d) In any action under this section, the committee or candidate shall be named as a defendant and may be served with process by certified mail directed to the address contained in the chief election officer's records for that party. The chief election officer shall be a nominal party to an action brought under subsection (b) solely for the purpose of determining the content of the online voters' pamphlet. The circuit court shall give these actions priority on its calendar.

11-J Deceptively similar campaign materials prohibited. (a) No person or entity may publish or distribute any campaign material that is deceptively similar in design or appearance to an online voters' pamphlet or online voters' pamphlet postcard that is published by the chief election officer.

(b) The chief election officer shall take reasonable measures to prevent or stop violations of this section, including petitioning the court for a temporary restraining order or other appropriate injunctive relief.

11-K Public inspection; arguments and statements. (a) An argument, rebuttal, or candidate statement submitted to the chief election officer for publication in the online voters' pamphlet shall not be available on the office of elections' website until:

(1) In the case of candidate statements:

(A) All statements by all candidates who have filed for a particular office have been received, except those who informed the chief election officer that they will not submit statements; or

(B) The deadline for submission has passed;

(2) In the case of argument statements supporting or opposing a ballot issue:

(A) The argument statements on both sides have been received, unless a committee was not appointed for one side; or

(B) The deadline for submission of argument statements has passed; and

(3) In the case of rebuttal statements:

(A) The rebuttal statements on both sides have been received, unless a committee was not appointed for one side; or

(B) The deadline for submission of rebuttal statements has passed.

(b) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the chief election officer from releasing information in accordance with chapter 92F.

11-L Rules. The chief election officer shall adopt rules in accordance with chapter 91 to implement this part."

SECTION 3. Section 11-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (d) to read as follows:

"(d) The chief election officer shall be responsible for public education with respect to voter registration and information[.] and the publication and distribution of online voters' pamphlets and online voters' pamphlet postcards in accordance with part      ."

SECTION 4. 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) Compilation, printing, internet web hosting, and distribution costs associated with online voters' pamphlets and online voters' pamphlet postcards pursuant to part      ; and

[(G)] (H) 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 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] these functions shall be determined by the chief election officer where the responsibility for [such] these 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] the expenses under paragraph (1), (2), or (3) [above] by the chief election officer upon agreement with the clerks or by the legislature."

SECTION 5. 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 2019-2020 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 for the chief election officer to publish an online voters' pamphlet and publish and distribute postcards notifying voters of the pamphlet's website address for each election starting with the 2020 primary election.

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

SECTION 6. If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

SECTION 7. In codifying the new sections added by section 2 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in this Act.

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

SECTION 9. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2019.



 

Report Title:

Elections; Online Voters' Pamphlet; Postcards; Office of Elections; Chief Election Officer; Appropriation

 

 

Description:

Requires the Chief Election Officer, with assistance from the county clerks for elections involving county offices and countywide ballot issues, to publish an online voters' pamphlet on the Office of Elections' public website and publish and distribute postcards notifying voters of the online voters' pamphlet website address. Appropriates moneys to allow the chief election officer to produce and distribute an online voters' pamphlet and voters' pamphlet postcards for each election. (SD1)

 

 

 

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