League of Women Voters Releases Legislative Priorities
The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago in 1920, just six months before the 19th amendment was ratified and women got the vote. Ever since, Leagues throughout the country have worked to protect the right to vote, to increase voter registration, to promote voter education, and to provide voters with the information they need when they head to the polls.
According to a release by the League of Women’s Voters of Hawai‘i, “it has been more than frustrating for the Hawai‘i League that, despite our continuing efforts, Hawai‘i’s voter participation has been so abysmal, election after election. But hope is on the horizon.”
The 2019 legislative session opened for business Wednesday, Jan. 16, and the League was gratified to see that numerous bills have been introduced to improve and modernize elections here. A look at the legislature’s website reveals:
- 10 bills promoting automatic voter registration,
- 11 bills requiring mandatory recounts in close elections,
- 8 bills addressing all-mail voting,
- 8 bills considering ranked-choice voting.
The release said, “all of these are welcome, and we look forward to offering testimony. Voter education is an unfulfilled goal that goes hand-in-hand with these reforms. The voter education gap is recognized in SB1481, SB1058, and SB958, bills that attempt to address some of what is missing: candidate data and all the information the voter needs in one place—a printed booklet mailed to the house of every citizen. But the first bill is limited to districts selected by the chief election officer; the second applies to ballot measures, such as constitutional amendments; and third expands that to include candidate positions supporting and opposing those ballot measures.”
The League believes this information must be provided statewide and that it should be all-encompassing, not piecemeal. Objective information is out there, but it’s on myriad websites that many are not aware of.
On top of that, many citizens are kupuna without the knowledge or ability to access the internet,
putting them at a severe disadvantage.
The release said, “Citizens deserve the information they need to be educated voters, and they are not currently getting it. While the voter education function is often performed in states that have a secretary of state, Hawai‘i’s Elections Office, citing, among other things, a lack of funding, has declined to step up to the plate. If funding is what is needed to assist the Elections Office in providing this vital function to Hawai‘i’s voters, it’s time to give the office both the funding and the statutory authority to do so. With a Presidential election looming in 2020, Hawai‘i needs to make this a priority.”
The League of Women Voters of Hawai‘i is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information go online.