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New Law Allows Election-Day Voter Registration in 2018

Posted June 30, 2014, 05:57 PM HST Updated July 1, 2014, 11:17 AM HST
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie is flanked by Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing, left, and Rep. Karl Rhoads, right, as he signed House Bill 2590 into law. Ing and Rhoads were co-sponsors of the bill allowing late voter registration beginning in 2016. Courtesy photo.

A new law will allow voters to register at absentee polling places in 2016 and at all polling places on election day in 2018.

House Bill 2590, which during the past legislative session received strong support in the Senate but a mixed reception in the House, today became Act 166 after being signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The law also appropriates $100,000 to the state Office of Elections to help counties implement the law, which the governor’s office said may require the acquisition of electronic poll books.

Some of the state’s county clerks had expressed concerns about the need for additional poll workers to fulfill the bill’s mission.

As a result of a compromise between the House and Senate, a requirement that those registering late provide proof of residence had been dropped, while an added clause made it a class “C” felony to provide false information in the signed registration affidavit.

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Eleven other states already allow registration of voters on election day.

Supporters of the bill say it should help boost Hawaii’s voter turnout, which was the highest in the country in the years following statehood, but now ranks last in the nation.

“Our system of government depends on individuals exercising their right to vote, one of our most cherished duties as citizens,”Abercrombie said during the signing ceremony.

“I applaud members of the Legislature for advancing HB2590 in the interest of removing barriers to voting, and I support the measure as long as it can be achieved from a sound technical standpoint.”

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