Hundreds of Hawaii voters were likely disenfranchised in the 2012 elections after dozens of polling places ran out of ballots due to mismanagement and mishaps statewide. This is the same state that recorded the nation’s lowest voter turnout with a lousy 44 percent of registered voters bothering to elect their leaders. Then there was the debate over whether some candidates actually belonged to the political party they claimed or lived in the district they wanted to represent. Not to mention accusations of voter intimidation with candidates watching as voters filled out absentee ballots at home. And so Hawaii entered 2013 amid lawsuits, investigations and a blitz of bills to fix the flaws. What’s happened? Pretty much nothing. This year’s legislative session wrapped up May 2 with only one significant election-reform bill passing.
Good-government groups celebrated the Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 827. It prohibits employers, unions, candidates or their agents from assisting voters with completing absentee ballots.
Concerns of voter intimidation were raised last election over Rep. Romy Cachola’s hands-on approach to helping voters in his district with their absentee ballots. He denied any wrongdoing, but one family said he forced a grandmother to complete an absentee ballot as he watched.
He beat his opponent in the race, Nicole Velasco, by only a handful of votes, making the issue all the more critical to address.