Deputy registrars voted out of the voter process


POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2010

QUESTION: If you go to the City and County of Honolulu voter registration Web site — —you will note, “;The deputy registrar program has been canceled. No future training sessions will be held.”; Isn't the timing most interesting? A big rally is scheduled for this Sunday, with registrars set up all around the rotunda to register people.

ANSWER: People still can register to vote at the “;iVote Rally for Traditional Family Values”; you refer to, or at any other community voter registration drive.

But with state and county governments no longer sanctioning deputy registrars, the registration becomes a private matter.

“;It becomes a private transaction between the person registering to vote and the person registering them,”; explained Glen Takahashi, elections administrator for the City and County of Honolulu. “;If I choose to trust such-and-such political party to take my personal information and bring it in (to the elections office), that's my personal decision to trust that party or that community group.”;

However, elections officials recommend voter registrants either bring in the registration form themselves or mail it in.

“;Again, we're not discouraging people from doing their voter registration outreach,”; Takahashi said. “;In fact, we encourage it—we'll provide the forms and whatnot. It's just that our office is not going to sanction any volunteers as agents of our office to do that type of work, like the registrar program (did).”;

The state Office of Elections, with the approval of county elections officials, eliminated the deputy registrar program as part of changes in its Hawaii Administrative Rules, he explained.

That came about after “;extensive”; discussions.

As a result, all deputy registrar commissions expired Tuesday, when the rule changes took effect.

About 100 commissions on Oahu were affected, Takahashi said. Most of those deputy registrars were commissioned last year, when two special elections were held.

Getting rid of deputy registrars is not considered a big deal, according to Takahashi.

“;Voter registration has evolved over the years,”; he said, and people can now register by mail and can pick up application forms virtually anywhere, including public libraries and driver licensing stations.

“;So, the idea of having to go in front of a registrar ... to fill out a form is kind of an outdated concept,”; he said.

Additionally, changes in laws dealing with personal information, including new requirements on government agencies for reporting the loss of someone's personal information, brought up concerns of liability if someone's personal information were to be compromised.

Especially since elections officials really have no way to monitor volunteer registrars, Takahashi said.

“;We really don't have a whole lot of control over the time, place and manner where these sponsored registrars do their voter registration campaigns,”; he said.

So, part of the reason for eliminating deputy registrars was “;really to pull the county and state away from that process.”;

People can still participate in voter registration drives, Takahashi said, and there is “;no change in terms of accessibility”; to registering to vote.