Legislature Considering Allowing Election-Day Registration
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by Dave Smith
Residents who procrastinate and fail to register to vote by the deadline would still be able to cast ballots on election day under a bill approved by the state House of Representatives.
House Bill 321, which has been referred to several Senate committees, would permit residents to register at the same time they went in to vote.
Current state law requires that voters register 30 days before the election.
The change to allow election-day registration has been proposed as a way of increasing voting participation, lawmakers say.
The bill’s current wording would require that the county clerks of each island designate a worker at each polling place to handle the registration.
Each prospective voter would be required to sign an affidavit stating they he or she has not yet voted – whether in person or by absentee ballot – and will not be voting at any other polling place that day.
They will also have to provide a valid driver’s license, bank statement, current utility bill or other proof of residency.
The validity of the registration could be challenged using procedures already in state law.
The state Office of Elections is in support of the bill, but suggested it be amended to require that the registration and voting take place only at the precinct designated for the voter’s place of residence.
The bill’s current draft would allow that to occur at any precinct, as long as it is in the appropriate county.
The clerks of all four counties expressed reservations about the bill, most of which involved the additional burden it could place on election workers.
Common Cause Hawaii, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and the League of Women Voters of Hawaii submitted testimony in favor of the legislation.