Bill passed to ease voter registration

State lawmakers have approved a bill to allow voter registration at early-voting locations in 2016 and at all Election Day polling places in 2018, according to South Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing, who introduced the measure.

“Hawaii was number one for voter turnout in the 1960s,” Ing said in an announcement. “Fifty years later, we are dead last.

“This bill moves to end this shameful distinction and foster a stronger public voice,” he said. “We need to take our turnout and turn it around.”

Ing said he sees same-day voter registration as an immediate short-term solution.

“There are all kinds of reasons folks do not vote,” he said. “But arbitrary, outdated registration deadlines should not be one of them. Bold action is underway to educate citizens and increase civic engagement, but this solution promises the most instant impact.”

Eleven states and the District of Columbia already have same-day voter registration.

According to the state Office of Elections, general election voter turnout since 1959 in Maui County reached a record low of 49.7 percent in 2010, with the state turnout the same year at 55.8 percent. In 2012, Maui County’s general election turnout was 56.8 percent, and statewide it was 61.9 percent.

When Hawaii became a state in 1959, the state and all the counties set record high voter turnouts in the general election, with Maui’s at 94.3 percent and the state’s at 93.6 percent. Since then, voter turnout has steadily slid downward.