BY SEN. SAM SLOM – I am offering brief testimony today as a voter, a representative of dozens of residents who asked me to express their outrage, and as the Senate Minority Leader who appointed two of the members of the Elections Commission.
Our right to vote is our most fundamental Constitutional right. The Office of Elections is charged with the responsibility to ensure that right and the process that goes with it.
You have one task, and that is to operate a smooth, error free election, every two years.
There was major failure this month that particularly affected my Senatorial District and polling places in East Honolulu. A simple, “I apologize” is not sufficient.
All of these errors were avoidable.
Quite simply, there must be a change in leadership and accountability in our election process in order to regain and retain trust.
The most recent controversy involves the mishandling of the November 6 General Election but there is a disturbing trend of leadership malfunctions over the years:
• Irregularities in the 1998 election tally
• evidence of voter fraud in several subsequent elections
• irregularities and cost overruns in voter machine contracts
• errors under the control of Kevin Cronin
• disenfranchisement of overseas Hawaii armed forces voters
• action against Hawaii by the Federal Government because of late military balloting
• misinformation given regarding tenure of Senate during 2010 election
• testimony by the Office of Elections against O’ahu military voting during recent Reapportionment and subsequent legal action
• failed campaign to increase voter turnout
• Hawaii Island voter meltdown in the August Primary resulting in Governor’s intervention
• Ballot alpha printing mistake, duplicate Manoa ballots, missing candidate names or wrong districts and shortage in paper ballots at 24 election sites resulting in long delays and voters turned away on November 6, 2012 General Election.
Some have called for a return of the election under control of the Lt. Governor. I do not support this effort; I believe it would be a mistake. Instead, I want to insure a strong, independent and committed election commission.
However, there is also a growing movement to allow and encourage voting by mail or electronic voting as a more positive alternative. It is argued it will increase voter turnout, lower costs and embrace new technology.
I do not think this change per se will increase voter turnout but I do believe it is a recognition of how we do things technically today, and definitely could decrease costs and free up classrooms on election day. I know the 2013 Legislature will actively discuss this issue. I am concerned about possible voter fraud with all mail-in and/or electronic balloting.
(As I completed this written testimony, the Governor on November 26 issued a statement in favor of all mail-in voting and indicated he has asked the Attorney General to investigate your Office).
In conclusion, I would urge you today to take strong, decisive action, expediting your internal review of this year’s election, adopting a specific, fail-safe future action plan, and replacement of current leadership.
Sam Slom is a State Senator representing the 9th District, Hawaii Kai to Diamond Head. He presented this testimony to the State Elections Commission on November 27, 2012