STILL TIME TO SUBMIT TESTIMONY BEFORE 4PM TODAY.
CORRECTED TESTIMONY LINK INLCLUDED BELOW!
SUBMIT TESITMONY IN SUPPORT OF
HONOLULU CITY COUNCIL
RESOLUTION 20-139, FD1
Safe and Secure Voting
CALL YOUR COUNCILPERSON TO
EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR THIS RESO
It has come to our attention that there is a faulty link in the email we sent out earlier today. Thank you to those who have called their City Council members to ask for their support for this measure. You can still find your City Council Member here. PLEASE ALSO take 2 minutes to submit testimony in SUPPORT of adequate access to Vote By Mail by 4pm today. Here are step by step instructions:
1) Go to http://www.honolulu.gov/ccl-testimony-form.html
2) Fill in your particulars.
3) In the box marked “meeting date,” enter 06/03/2020
4) In the box marked “Council/PH Committee” select “CouncilPublic Hearing” from the drop down menu
5) In the box marked “Agenda Item” type “Resolution 20-139”
6) Click support, choose self or organization, copy/paste talking points (below or write your own), fill out the Captcha box, and click submit.
THE RESO asks the Honolulu Clerk to designate and establish additional voter service centers (there are only 2 on Oahu) and drop boxes (only 8 on Oahu and 2 of the 8 double as voter service centers) to receive ballots.
And, dedicated Federal Funding already exists to accomplish this so money is not the issue.
THANKS TO COMMON CAUSE HAWAII FOR ITS LEADERSHIP ON THIS ISSUE.
Two Actions you can take TODAY:ONE. Call your Honolulu City Council member to express support for Reso 20-139, FD1. Find your council person’s phone number here.
TWO. Submit Testimony by 4pm today You may submit testimony. Your Your testimony can be as simple as: Please support Reso-20-139, FD1 to ensure safe, secure and accessible voting by providing more voter service centers and drop boxes on Oahu. The current number of drop boxes and only 2 voter services centers is not adequate.
- Go to http://www.honolulu.gov/ccl-testimony-form.html
- Fill in your particulars.
- In the box marked “meeting date,” enter 06/03/2020
- In the box marked “Council/PH Committee” select “CouncilPublic Hearing” from the drop down menu
- In the box marked “Agenda Item” type “Resolution 20-139”
- Click support, choose self or organization, copy/paste talking points (below or write your own), fill out the Captcha box, and click submit.\
Why is this important? The recent May 15, 2020 Proclamation by State Office of Elections and the County Clerks indicates the County Clerks have remained firm on having only 8 voter service centers to perform in-person voting services for the first time all of Hawaii will by voting by mail for the 2020 elections. While many people in Hawaii do vote by mail (absentee), still a lot of voters want to vote in-person and they should have the option! Also, there should be more than 8 voter service centers for the first time Hawaii votes by mail just in case there are any hiccups to the mail-in voting process! This is just common sense.
Honolulu City Council heard our concerns and introduced the attached Resolution 20-139, FD1, which asks the Honolulu Clerk to designate and establish additional voter service centers (there are only 2 on Oahu) and drop boxes (only 8 on Oahu and 2 of the 8 double as voter service centers) to receive ballots. We ask you to submit testimony in SUPPORT of Resolution 20-139, FD1! This is so important to ensure the success of the new Voting By Mail law that we have fought years and years to pass at the State Legislature. We all know that voting by mail alone is not enough; it must be must be complemented with a sufficient number of voter service centers for all mail in voting to be successful.
Resolution 20-139, FD1 will be heard on Wed., June 3rd. The Agenda for the City Council meeting is HERE and provides comprehensive instructions on how to submit testimony. You may sign up to testify remotely. You may testimony in-person at Honolulu Hale. You may submit written testimony only. Please submit testimony in support of Resolution 20-139, FD1 by Monday, 4 pm, June 1, 2020.
Here are some Talking Points in SUPPORT for Resolution 20-139, FD1:
· Act 136, Session Laws of Hawaii 2019 (Act 136), adopted statewide voting by mail starting with the 2020 elections. Under Act 136, there will no longer be traditional polling locations, but, instead, voter service centers (VSCs) will receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Act 136 at page 2, lines 10-14. VSCs “shall be established at the office of the clerk, and may be established at additional locations within a county as may be designated by a clerk to service the particular needs of a county’s voters.” Id. at page 13, lines 9-12. Further, VSCs must be open 10 days prior to and through election days and open uniform times throughout the State. Id. at page 13, lines 13-15.
· Additionally, under Act 136, the county clerks determine the locations and hours of the places of deposit (drop boxes) to receive ballots. Id. at page 13, lines 20-21 through page 14, lines 1-4. Thus, the operations of VSCs and drop boxes are a City and County Clerk’s Office function.
· By the May 15, 2020 Proclamation, there will only two (2) VSCs and eight (8) drop boxes throughout Oahu for the very time all of Hawaii be voting by mail. This is clearly not enough.
· It is well recognized that voting by mail must be complemented with a sufficient number of voter service centers for all mail in voting to be successful. This is because voting by mail does not work for everyone, especially not in a pandemic. “In the ordinary course, new voting procedures typically cause disruptions and problems the first time they are used. This problem will be compounded by the sheer magnitude of the shift to mail-voting, coupled with the chaos and confusion caused by the virus. The reality is that many voters, especially in communities and demographic groups with poor mail access, are used to voting in-person, prefer to do so, and will not be willing or able to vote by mail. Those voters will need safe and healthy in-person voting options this November.” https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voters-need-safe-and-sanitary-person-voting-options; https://www.rewire.org/what-to-know-about-voting-by-mail/ (voting by mail should not be the only option); https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/democracy/news/2020/04/20/483438/expanding-vote-mail-states-must-maintain-person-voting-options-coronavirus-pandemic/ (vote-by-mail systems must include in-person voting options).
· Voters with disabilities, needing language assistance, same day registering to vote, in rural areas, who move frequently (houseless and students), from historically marginalized groups, and more need VSCs to be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote. We cannot assume that all voters are fluent English speakers, who do not have a disability, will not need assistance with casting a ballot, and/or have easy access to a mailbox or a drop box, especially not in Hawaii. https://www.vox.com/2020/3/20/21185184/vote-by-mail-coronavirus-pandemic-elections.
· Clearly, only having two (2) VSCs and eight (8) drop boxes, two of which double as VSCs, on Oahu is creating barriers to voting.
· As of 2018, according to the State Office of Elections, Oahu has 500,163 registered voters, and the voter turnout was 262,700 for an off-year election. In 2016, a presidential election year, the voter turnout was 291,446; in 2014, an off-year election, the voter turnout was 249,436; in 2012, a presidential election year, the voter turnout was 298,815. Thus, the 2020 elections — with presidential, congressional representatives, 13 state senators, the entire state house, the Oahu mayor, prosecutor, five (5) councilmembers, and many other races — have been billed as the most consequential of our lifetimes. The anticipated 2020 voter turnout should be greater than in previous presidential election years. Consequently, there is a significant risk that lines may form with only two (2) VSCs on Oahu, jeopardizing public health and elections’ staff safety, especially as medical experts have opined that a second wave of the coronavirus is expected to impact the country in the Fall / Winter months, when Hawaii is voting.
· The City and County of Honolulu needs to ensure that voters may exercise their constitutional right to vote. As recognized by the Hawaii Supreme Court in Green Party of Hawai’i v. Nago, 138 Hawai`i 228, 378 P.3d 944 (2016), “[t]he right to vote is of fundamental importance.” Voting is a fundamental right preservative of all other rights. Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 370 (1886). “No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live,” and “[o]ther rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.” Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17 (1964).
· As stated in Resolution 20-139, FD1, there are CARES Act funds available to help the City and County of Honolulu properly transition during a pandemic to voting by mail, an entirely new voting system for the 2020 elections. Again, it bears repeating that there must be more than just two (2) VSCs and eight (8) drop boxes for the over 500,000 registered voters and likely over 300,000 actual voters, who will voting in the 2020 elections.
· Our democracy, the sanctity of our elections, and the legitimacy of our vote require that Resolution 20-139, FD1 be passed. I ask that Resolution 20-139, FD1 be amended and strengthened by providing that:
1) Additional drop box locations be located in areas such as Haleiwa, Kaaawa, and Waimanalo. Drop boxes may be co-located in essential locations, e.g., groceries stores, pharmacies, etc.
2) All drop boxes be open 24 hours a day for the convenience of voters.
3) Additional VSCs be located on the Windward side of Oahu and on the Northshore of Oahu, at a minimum.
4) All VSCs be open into the evenings for the convenience of voters. The Office of the Clerk should be tasked with coordinating with other counties to extend VSC hours.
5) VSCs and drop boxes located on government facilities will be open and accessible to the public and not be closed if a second wave of the coronavirus shutters government facilities in the Fall / Winter months when Hawaii votes.
6) The post-Primary Election report to the Council’s Committee on Executive Matters and Legal Affairs will be available within two (2) weeks of the August 8, 2020 Primary Election, which will hopefully provide sufficient time to implement any improvements for the 2020 General Election.
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