Voters now have the option of permanent mail in ballot - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Voters now have the option of permanent mail in ballot

Glen Takahashi Glen Takahashi
Mel Sueyoshi Mel Sueyoshi
Dave Morris Dave Morris
Marti Townsend Marti Townsend

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The government is trying to make it easier for people to cast their vote.  Registered voters on Oahu should be getting an application in the mail this week.  Fill it out and return it if you'd like to permanently vote by mail.

It's the next step in the evolution toward complete mail in voting.

"Our main goal is to provide options and the convenience for voters and that's what this program does," said Glen Takahashi, Honolulu City Clerk's Office.

The permanent absentee application was sent to 250,000 homes of registered voters on Oahu.  It's in large part because 60 percent of absentee voters repeat the process every election.  With the permanent absentee application they won't need to reapply every two years.

"In terms of time we expect to capture about 40,000 to 50,000 permanent absentee voters so if we do that this year, in 2012 that's 40,000 to 50,000 application forms we don't have to do data entry for.  That's probably a month's worth of work," said Takahashi.

That's big with furlough days and cutbacks.  Plus the number of polling places on Oahu had dropped from 212 down to 160.  That could make lines at polling places longer or locations less convenient for voters.

"The one thing about this program is the voter is responsible for keeping all address information current with our office," said Takahashi.

That was a big problem with the governor.  She vetoed the permanent absentee plan back in 2008 because the clerk's office cannot verify the information and relies on the voter to update address changes.  Plus she says there are no penalties for fraud.  But lawmakers overrode her veto and the process is underway.

"I think that's a very good idea it's very convenient for everybody to vote, it will probably get voter participation up," said Mel Sueyoshi, registered voter from Hawaii Kai.

"I'm hoping the state will make efforts to protect against fraud but other than that I don't think there is anything to be concerned about," said Marti Townsend, registered voter from Aiea.  "I think it's a good idea. I vote by absentee just because it's hard for me to make time in my day with kids and work to be able to go down to the polling place and absentee voting I can do at my leisure."

Others already threw the application away.

"To me there is something part of doing your civic duty there's something about going down in the morning getting your vote knocked out, walking away with a little receipt. It kind of feels like you've really done something that day and really gotten your voice out there," said Dave Morris, registered voter from Kailua.

If you don't want to vote by mail ignore the application.

If you do sign up you can always request to be taken off by informing the clerk's office in writing.  Also people would be kicked off the list if they don't vote in both the primary and general elections, they register in another jurisdiction, or if any election mail is returned as undeliverable for any reason.

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