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Hawaii Governor Makes Push for 100% Mail-in Ballots

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Maui election booths, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Governor Neil Abercrombie will make a push this legislative session to move the state toward 100% mail-in voting.

The move comes in the wake of problems on O’ahu during the 2012 general election in which several polling places ran out of paper ballots, resulting in long lines and delays.

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Gov. Abercrombie said the item will be included in his legislative package in January. He noted that similar legislation has been effective in other parts of  the country.

“Moreover,” he said, “absentee ballots have seen a steady increase and use over the last several elections, and there has been no evidence to question the accuracy and security of these ballots relative to traditional methods.”

The governor’s office does not have authority in overseeing the Office of Elections, but the governor said he is compelled to advocate for changes that will help to ensure voter participation in elections.

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The governor said he agreed with criticism that the handling of election operations raises “legitimate concerns.”

He said, “I do not plan to simply stand on the side and wait to see what the Office of Elections’ own review may bring. At a minimum, we must consider new technologies that can help bring our election process into the 21st Century.”

Gov. Abercrombie has also asked Attorney General David Louie to investigate the state Office of Elections and the circumstances that resulted in the paper ballot shortage at multiple polling places on Nov. 6.

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“This serious problem has tarnished the election process and eroded public confidence,” said Gov. Abercrombie.

The right to vote, he said, is one of the most cherished duties of US citizens. “Therefore, we must ensure that our voting process runs smoothly and efficiently.”

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