THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

1186

THIRTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2023

 

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 even with its recent all-mail voting election, Hawaii still has an unacceptably low voter participation rate. Hawaii has more than two hundred thousand persons eligible to vote who are not currently registered. Steps should be taken to increase the number of registered voters in the State and encourage participation in the political process.

The legislature finds that eligible voters are sometimes not interested in voting for the available candidates and refrain from voting. The legislature further finds that write in voting would allow voters to support candidates of their choice when their choice is not among the listed candidates.

The legislature additionally finds that past objections to write-in voting have included the added difficulty in counting the ballots, but the legislature finds that the inconvenience caused to the State in having to count write-in ballots is outweighed by the public's interest in voting for the candidate of their choice.

The purpose of this Act is to allow voters of the State to vote for declared candidates other than those listed on the ballot through a write-in voting procedure.

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

"PART     . WRITE-IN VOTING

11-A Write-in voting. Write-in voting is permitted for any state or county election conducted in the State. A voter may cast a write-in vote for a candidate whose name is not printed on the ballot by writing in the candidate's name in the appropriate blank space provided on the ballot. Voters may cast write-in votes only for candidates who have filed declarations pursuant to section 11‑B. As used in this section, "write-in" does not include imprinting of any name by rubber stamp or similar device, or the use of preprinted stickers or labels.

11-B Write-in candidates. Any person who desires to be a write-in candidate shall file a declaration of candidacy with the chief election officer, or the clerk in case of county offices, no later than 4:30 p.m. on the fortieth calendar day prior to the election; provided that if that day is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, then the person shall file the declaration of candidacy no later than 4:30 p.m. on the first working day immediately preceding.

11-C Write-in vote count. (a) When only one person is to be elected to an office, write-in votes shall be officially counted by the chief election officer only if the total number of write-in votes cast for the office equals or exceeds the number of votes for the candidate whose name is printed on the ballot and who received the highest number of votes for that office. When more than one person is to be elected to an office, write-in votes shall be counted only if the total number of write-in votes for the office equals or exceeds the number of votes for the candidates whose names are printed on the ballots and who would otherwise be nominated or elected to that office.

(b) Write-in votes shall not be counted for a candidate:

(1) Whose name is printed on the ballot for any office at the same election;

(2) Who is currently a public officer that is ineligible to run for office pursuant to article II, section 7 of the Hawaii State Constitution; or

(3) Who, in the case of a general election, was on the ballot for the same office for the primary election.

(c) In addition to the applicable requirements of subsection (a), write-in votes for a candidate shall be counted only if the total number of write-in votes for the candidate is at least equal to the number of signatures required on nomination papers for that office.

11-D Write-in ballots. Following the names of candidates for each office there shall be as many blank lines as there are persons to be elected to that office to allow for write-in voting. The name of a write-in candidate shall not appear on the ballot. The ballot in which a write-in candidate is a candidate shall contain:

(1) A blank underlined space designated "Write-in" for the voter to write in the name of the candidate; and

(2) A box or oval adjacent to the blank underlined space to indicate the voter's choice to write-in a candidate in lieu of voting for a name printed on the ballot.

The write-in vote shall be counted only if the box or oval is filled in on the ballot and if the write-in name appears on the ballot as written on the declaration of write-in candidacy; provided that the name of the write-in candidate is not required to be spelled correctly on the ballot if the voter's intent, in the determination of the clerk and the chief election officer, is evident from the misspelled name.

11-E Requirements for write-in candidate. A write-in candidate determined to be a party or nonpartisan candidate in the primary or special primary election pursuant to section 12‑41, shall meet the following requirements not later than 4:30 p.m. on the fifth day following the primary election. The candidate shall:

(1) File a statement in a form prescribed by the chief election officer containing the following information:

(A) The name of the candidate;

(B) The residence address and county in which the candidate resides;

(C) A certification by the candidate that the candidate will qualify under the law for the office the candidate is seeking;

(D) A certification by a party candidate that the candidate is a member of the party; and

(E) The name the candidate wishes inserted on the ballot and the post office address of the candidate;

(2) Register with the campaign spending commission and comply with the commission's requirements pursuant to this chapter on the same basis as any other candidate;

(3) File documents required of candidates with the appropriate ethics commission;

(4) File a written oath or affirmation as specified in section 12-7; and

(5) Deposit the appropriate filing fee specified in the fee schedule contained in section 12-6, which shall be deposited into the treasury of the State or county, as the case may be, except that the chief election officer or clerk shall waive the filing fee in the case of a person who declares, by affidavit, that the person is indigent.

11-F Rules. The chief election officer shall adopt rules under chapter 91 to implement this part."

SECTION 3. Section 11-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending the definition of "ballot" to read as follows:

""Ballot" means a ballot, including an absentee ballot, that is a written or printed, or partly written and partly printed paper or papers containing the names of persons to be voted for[,] and blank spaces for write-in candidates, the office to be filled, and the questions or issues to be voted on. "Ballot" includes:

(1) A ballot summary reflecting a complete record of the ballot selections made by a voter utilizing an HTML ballot or similar accessible ballot that produces a ballot summary;

(2) A voter verifiable paper audit trail in the event there is a discrepancy between a voting machine's electronic record of the voted ballot and the voter verifiable paper audit trail; and

(3) A ballot used in an election by mail pursuant to part VIIA, including a ballot approved for electronic transmission. 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."

SECTION 4. Section 11-112, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a) The ballot shall contain the names of the candidates, their party affiliation or nonpartisanship in partisan election contests, the offices for which they are running, and the district in which the election is being held. Following the names of candidates for each office there shall be blank lines for write-in candidates. In multimember races the ballot shall state that the voter shall not vote for more than the number of seats available or the number of candidates listed where the number of candidates is fewer than the number of seats available."

SECTION 5. Section 11-302, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending the definition of "candidate" to read as follows:

""Candidate" means an individual who seeks nomination for election or seeks election to office. An individual remains a candidate until the individual's candidate committee terminates registration with the commission. An individual is a candidate if the individual does any of the following:

(1) Files nomination papers for an office for the individual with the county clerk's office or with the chief election officer's office, whichever is applicable;

(2) Receives contributions, makes expenditures, or incurs financial obligations of more than $100 to bring about the individual's nomination for election, or to bring about the individual's election to office;

(3) Gives consent for any other person to receive contributions, make expenditures, or incur financial obligations to aid the individual's nomination for election, or the individual's election, to office; [or]

(4) Files a declaration of candidacy pursuant to section 11-B; or

[(4)] (5) Is certified to be a candidate by the chief election officer or county clerk."

SECTION 6. Section 12-21, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"12-21 Official party ballots. The primary or special primary ballot shall be clearly designated as such. The names of the candidates of each party qualifying under section 11-61 or 11-62 and of nonpartisan candidates may be printed on separate ballots, or on a single ballot. The name of each party and the nonpartisan designation shall be distinctly printed and sufficiently separate from each other. The names of all candidates shall be printed on the ballot as provided in section 11-115. When the names of all candidates of the same party for the same office exceed the maximum number of voting positions on a single side of a ballot card, the excess names may be arranged and listed on both sides of the ballot card and additional ballot cards if necessary. When separate ballots for each party are not used, the order in which parties appear on the ballot, including nonpartisan, shall be determined by lot. Following the names of candidates for each office, there shall be blank lines for write-in candidates.

The chief election officer or the county clerk, in the case of county elections, shall approve printed samples or proofs of the respective party ballots as to uniformity of size, weight, shape, and thickness prior to final printing of the official ballots."

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 upon its approval; provided that this Act shall apply to any state or county election conducted on or after July 1, 2023.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Elections; Voter Participation; Write-in Ballots

 

Description:

Authorizes write-in voting. Allows voters to vote for declared candidates other than those listed on preprinted ballot through write-in voting procedure. Applies to elections conducted on or after 7/1/2023.

 

 

 

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