Political candidates will shake hands, kiss keiki and sign-wave like crazy during election season — anything to get elected. Under proposed legislation, one thing they would not be allowed to do is touch a voter’s ballot. Senate Bill 827 would prohibit candidates from physically handling or possessing absentee ballots and voter registration forms. It seems to be another piece of legislation related to allegations of voter intimidation in the 2012 primary. SB 827 brings to mind House Bill 1027, which aims to ensure the integrity of absentee ballots. That measure would require that absentee ballots include information about election and voter fraud, and prohibit employers, unions and candidates “or their agents” from assisting voters in completing absentee ballots.
As Civil Beat reported, some are calling HB 1027 the Romy Cachola bill, after the former Honolulu councilman who was elected to the state House from Kalihi last year. Allegations were made that Cachola intimidated area voters and even mailed their ballots for them, something Cachola strenously denied.
“No. No way,” he told Civil Beat last year. “It’s against the law. Look at it this way, OK? I know what’s legal and what’s not legal, OK? No.”
As with HB 1027, SB 827 includes testimony that cites Civil Beat’s reporting on the allegations. SB 827 is also supported by some of the same groups that back HB 1027.
Scott Nago, the state’s chief elections officer, said his office was concerned about language definitions in SB 827 and requested clarification.
“Given the criminal penalties involved in this bill, the Office of Elections expect that candidates and their committees along with political parties, political action committees or similar entities will have questions about the nuances of what constitutes a violation of this provision,” Nago testified.