Voter addresses help to ensure honest election
Every time I vote, I notice that they post everyone's name and address at the precinct locations. It seems to me that this is an invasion of privacy and could put some people in danger. Take, for instance, the problem of domestic violence. What happens if a violent ex-boyfriend happens to find the whereabouts of his ex-girlfriend using this voter information? Can't the state change this to protect people's right to privacy?
Answer: There is a way for a registered voter who believes he or she could be in danger, or would suffer an "unwarranted" invasion of privacy, to have an address withheld.
In fact, 156 people on Oahu have asked for and received confidential status, according to Kevin Cronin, the state's chief election officer.
The basic intent of the law calling for the posting of names and addresses is for "transparency purposes," he explained.
He pointed to Section 11-24(c) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which requires the clerk in each county to prepare a list of all registered voters in each precinct:
"The list shall contain, in alphabetical order, without designation of the race or age of voters, the names of all voters so registered in each precinct, and the residence of each unless such residence is deemed confidential. ... The list shall be available for inspection at the office of the county clerk prior to election day. On election day the precinct officials shall post the list at the precinct polling place."
Cronin explained that addresses are posted to maintain the integrity of the election process.
"One of the greatest safeguards for any election is a voter who may challenge a person's right to vote on the ground the person is not the person he or she claims to be or the person is not entitled to vote in that district under procedures established by law," he said. "This process promotes the transparency and integrity of the election."
Meanwhile, Section 11-14.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes allows the withholding of an address if a "life threatening circumstance exists" to a law enforcement person, that person's family or anyone else as determined by the clerk of the county in which the person is registered.
In that case, that person may apply to the county clerk, in writing, to keep confidential his address and telephone number contained in voter registration or any other voter list.
A voter also may ask the chief election officer or county clerk to keep the address and telephone number confidential if disclosure "would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy or expose the person or a member of the person's family to risk of bodily harm."
Cronin said the law enables someone "to self-identify" any "concerns and need to keep his/her personal information confidential."
Regarding voters who have been allowed to keep their information confidential, Cronin said they are required to vote by absentee ballot and are responsible for making "a timely request."
Their names are still listed in the poll books and on the posted list of registered voters, but their addresses are redacted.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to email@example.com
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