Miriam Hellreich
Miriam Hellreich

By Miriam Hellreich – As House Bill 321, a bill allowing voter registration up to and on election day, hastily moves through the Hawaii State Legislature, our elected officials are forgetting the dire state of our Office of Elections.

Just a few months ago, 21 polling stations ran out of ballots in the middle of the day and disenfranchised voters not willing to stand in line for hours until the necessary ballots could be delivered. Others, who had planned to vote at the end of the day, took a “why bother” attitude when they heard of the long lines and no ballots. That is real voter suppression.

It is somewhat odd that our lawmakers have apparently not checked in with the eight other states that currently have this system. If they did, they would learn that “Election Day Voter Registration” has been chaotic and an invitation for voter fraud.

One state, Iowa, has a secretary of state who has made it his mission to rid the state of this particular law because of its implications for ballot security.

Party officials in Iowa, Minnesota and Montana have complained that while hundreds of people show up to register on election day, it is impossible to verify that they are residents, and there are reports of the same individuals voting in multiple districts.

One of the most sacred tenets of our democracy is to ensure the integrity of the ballot so that only people who are eligible can actually vote.

If Hawaii’s Elections Office was unable to handle ballots for a regularly scheduled election in 2012, can you imagine what kind of mess we will have when an unknown number of people may show up?

Hawaii has one of the most accessible voting systems in our country, with unrestricted ability for eligible citizens to register by mail, vote absentee by mail, do walk-in early voting 10 days before the election or to go to the polls.

If people show up on election day and are not on the voting list, they already have the ability to vote a provisional ballot.

Despite the many opportunities to vote, Hawaii still has the lowest turnout in the nation. Why would we think that changing the system, which would increase the likelihood of voter fraud, would somehow increase voter confidence and motivate additional citizens to want to vote?

Currently, many voters do not feel that their vote makes any difference at all, which would be significantly exacerbated if they cannot trust the validity of the vote.

Simply put, instead of putting new election laws on the books, the state Office of Elections needs to focus on voter education and awareness in our schools and community to help restore confidence in the power of the individual vote and the two-party system. There is a reason our country attracts so many immigrants: The right to vote is at the top of the list.

Miriam Hellreich is the national committee woman for the Hawaii GOP.

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