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Tuesday, April 8, 2014
PEW: Hawaii Voter Participation Drops Below 45%--Worst in USA
By News Release @ 5:27 PM :: 5297 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Office of Elections

Hawaii Elections Performance Index

From Pew Charitable Trust, April, 2014

This profile reports important trends for Hawaii that emerged from the 2012 update to The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Elections Performance Index, or EPI.  The EPI analyzes 17 key indicators of election administration and scores each state’s performance by indicator and overall. For more information and to view the full interactive index, visit www.pewstates.org/epi.

Beyond the numbers

Hawaii’s overall EPI average fell by 4 percentage points, dropping the state into the bottom 12 for 2012. Only two states, Georgia and Vermont, had larger declines in their overall EPI average.  Hawaii was again last in voter turnout in 2012, with its rate decreasing 4.6 percentage points from a nation’s worst 2008 rate, a larger-than-average drop. It was the only state with less than 50 percent turnout in 2008, and the only one with less than 45 percent in 2012.

Hawaii had the eighth-largest increase in the rate of mail ballots rejected from 2008 to 2012. Although it had no-excuse mail voting in 2008, Hawaii added permanent mail voting—allowing registered voters to request mail ballots for all future elections—between the 2008 and 2012 elections, which may have contributed to the increase.

Further, nonvoting due to registration or absentee ballot problems increased between 2008 and 2012. Hawaii had the second-largest increase nationwide, behind Montana.

The average wait time to vote also inched up. In 2008, Hawaii had one of the 10 lowest average wait times at just under six minutes, but unlike in most states the wait increased in 2012, although it was still shorter than average.

Room for improvement

In 2012, Hawaii passed legislation to implement online voter registration, which will be rolled out in 2016. This will improve the state’s performance on the online registration indicator and could have a positive impact on other indicators as well, including wait time to vote and provisional ballots cast. Adding online voter registration is also one of the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

And even with 92.6 data completeness, Hawaii was still in the bottom 10 states for this indicator. The state can work with its local election officials to establish or improve collection and reporting of key performance data measured in this index.

Both of the above policies—improving data collection and adding online voter registration—are also among the Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s recommendations.

Finally, Hawaii had only two of five online voting information lookup tools on its election website for 2012. Ten states had all possible lookup tools, and most states had an average of three or four in 2012. The state could add lookup tools for registration status, absentee ballot status, and provisional ballot status to improve access to election information and increase the state’s EPI average..

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