State proposes major revision of election rules


POSTED: Thursday, December 10, 2009

The state Office of Elections hopes to complete as early as next month the first major revision since 2000 of the rules governing how elections are held in Hawaii.

The proposed rules cover new voting systems and electronic voting, mail-in elections, absentee voting and even the process to make election rules.

The rule changes were prompted in part by a Maui lawsuit challenging the use of electronic voting machines and the sending of election results through the Internet or telephone lines.

Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza decided that the state needs to hold a public hearing to come up with administrative rules governing electronic voting before new voting machines can be used in next year's elections.

As a result, the Office of Elections suspended the selection of a company to supply voting machines for the 2010 elections.

Chief Election Officer Kevin Cronin, who is resigning at the end of the month, hopes the rules can be finalized in January or February, which would allow the state to sign a contract for the new machines this spring.





        Today's public hearing on the election rule changes is at 10 a.m. at the Keoni Ana Building Videoconference Center, 1177 Alakea St., Room 302.. People can also testify at video conference centers on the neighbor islands in:

» Hilo at the Hilo State Office Building;


» Kona at the Hawaii County Council Kona Office;


» Wailuku at the Wailuku Judiciary Building and;


» Lihue at the Lihue State Office Building


Written testimony can be e-mailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or faxed to 453-6006. Written testimony will be accepted for the next two days.





        Notice of public hearing

        [ Download PDF ]

Proposed rules to be adopted
        [ Download PDF ]


Comparison of election rules
        [ Download PDF ]




A public hearing on the rules is scheduled for today.

Any major changes to the proposed rules could require another public hearing and may push the voting machine contract into the summer, leaving only a few months or weeks for voters and election officials to become familiar with the system before the Sept. 18 primary.

A status conference is scheduled for tomorrow on Maui, said Lance Collins, the attorney who filed the lawsuit.

Collins said he's not sure that the proposed rules “;completely address all the concerns”; in the lawsuit and said the issue of electronic voting and proper funding to make sure next year's elections go smoothly may need to be taken up by the Legislature.

“;This (upcoming election) is a slow-moving train wreck and we're still far enough away that we can get everything off the track,”; Collins said.

Cronin said today's hearing will “;allow the public and anyone interested to help make the administrative rules better for everybody.”; He said the rules need updating, adding that some of them date back to the time when the lieutenant governor ran elections.

Bob Babson, the lead plaintiff in the Maui lawsuit, said he is opposed to sending any election results via the Internet or telephone lines.

“;It's not secure,”; Babson said. “;They could easily just put it on a jet and fly it over.”;

A new section on holding elections by mail is based on Honolulu's experience with two recent special elections held by mail to find replacements for Duke Bainum and Barbara Marshall on the City Council, said Glen Takahashi, the city's election administrator.

Takahashi said he's mostly in support of the rule changes. But some county election officials were hoping to see more specific language about transmitting information and have concerns about a rule waiving the requirement for an absentee voter application in special cases.