Push for Automatic Voter Registration in Hawaii


Corie Tanida gives press conference at University of Mānoa to address concerns on Automatic Voter Registration.

Nonpartisan group Common Cause unveiled an updated technique in voter registration that will make the process easier and automatic. Eligible citizens applying for a driver’s license or state ID would be automatically registered to vote unless they opt-out.

“We have the opportunity to lead the country as a model to reduce the barriers” to voting, Corie Tanida, Executive Director of Common Cause, said Saturday. “Automatic voter registration speaks to the core of our democracy— everyone speaks, everyone’s voice is heard, and every American has equal access to the ballot box.”

Currently, applicants for driver’s licenses can choose to register to vote by filling out the bottom section of the application form. Under the proposed legislation, the drivers information would be electronically transferred to election officials.  Tanida claims that this would increase accuracy and efficiency. So far five states have passed automatic registration laws.

In Oregon, the automatic voter registration system boosted the number of voters by more than 50,000 this year, according The Nation.  In that state, citizens have 21 days to opt-out using a card that they receive in the mail once they’re registered.

Election officials in Hawaii have testified at the State Legislature in support of the automated system. “The electronic transmittal of voter information would streamline and modernize a process in dire need of improvement,” Kauai County Clerk Jade Fountain-Tanigawa said in a Common Cause press release.

However, the State Attorney’s General Department opposed one particular version of the bill last year because it might conflict with provisions of the National Voter Registration Act. The details are being worked out and a new version will be presented in the next Legislative session.