Hawaii’s Mail-In Voting System Causes Controversy

Hawaii’s progressive state officials are facing a difficult issue arising from the state’s liberal mail-in voting system. They are grappling with what to do if a voter dies after mailing in their vote but before their ballot is counted.

The state legislature is considering Senate Bill 19, which, if passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Josh Green, would count the vote of a voter who becomes ineligible, including death, after submitting their ballot.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard arguments for and against the bill on Friday. The Hawaii League of Women Voters said in written testimony that “every vote counts” and that if a registered voter submits a valid ballot on time, it should be counted, even if they later become ineligible.

However, Oahu resident Corinne Solomon opposes the bill, stating that tracking deaths, newly convicted felons, and residents who move out of state would be nearly impossible. “SB19 offers no insight on how this would be accomplished,” she wrote in her testimony. “We need a simpler election system of in-person Election Day voting with Voter ID, not one that requires complicated statutes that cannot be enforced.”

The bill was passed by the committee on a 4-1 vote, with state Sen. Brenton Awa (R) casting the only “no” vote.

The committee also considered a separate measure that would require presidential voters in the Electoral College to vote only for candidates whose names appear on the ballot. This legislation was supported by Lorna Takehara Strand, who was shocked in 2016 when a Democratic elector cast their vote for Bernie Sanders, who was not even on the general election ballot.

Determining what to do with ballots of voters who become ineligible after submitting their vote will remain a controversial issue in Hawaii, whether the current reform bill is passed or not.

The Constitution requires, and the American people deserve, a simple and efficient election system that is easy to enforce. Unfortunately, there will always be intractable problems with tracking eligible-to-ineligible ballots in every election using mail-in balloting. Instead of an unfixable system, every American state needs an in-person Election Day voting system with Voter ID, along with common-sense and secure balloting for those who genuinely need to vote as absentees.