Democracy – government by the people – only works if the people participate.
In Hawaii, low voter turnout means many people have either dropped out or never engaged with the political system. One way to change that is to modernize our voting system.
We can start by logically expanding the absentee voting method to a statewide Vote By Mail system. Voting By Mail is a program that meets voters where they are, and it isn't a new concept. Registered voters receive a ballot a few weeks before Election Day to allow adequate time to research candidates and issues before making a decision. Safeguards such as signature verification and audits remain in place to protect the integrity of the process, and citizens retain the right to vote in person if they wish.
Voting By Mail is also much less expensive than running elections with hundreds of polling places and volunteers. Election officials estimate Hawaii can save $800,000 per election cycle.
In order to be at its best Voting By Mail should be enacted with Automatic Voter Registration which is a small technical change to our current registration process. Any time eligible citizens apply for or renew their state identification or driver's license, they are automatically registered to vote unless they opt-out. This ensures voting isn't needlessly difficult for working and military families who move frequently, as well as seniors, students, and voters in rural areas.
Automatically registering voters also costs about 30 times less than processing a paper application. Hawaii News Now and Common Cause Hawaii support reforms like these which will bring many more people into the political process.
Visit modernelectionshi.org to learn how you can help initiate the statewide election modernizations Hawaii so urgently needs.
And then – get out and vote.