Hawaii Votes EP. 6 – May 2022 – Voters in Special Circumstances
Never miss your chance to vote. This episode provides the how-to’s of voter registration and casting a ballot for individuals in special circumstances.
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Hello and welcome to the Hawaii Votes program, brought to you by the State of Hawaii Office of Elections. In this series, we cover all things voting and serve as your guide through the 2022 Election year.
We’re your hosts, Jaime and Ray, and today’s episode is addressed to voters in special circumstances.
What do we mean by this? When we talk about special circumstances, we are recognizing that Hawaii’s voters do not all squarely fit into one category and may need additional guidance in order to vote.
Maybe you’re new to Hawaii and don’t have a Hawaii state issued ID. Maybe you’re a college student attending school on the mainland. Do these unique situations impact your eligibility to vote? And how do you navigate the registration and voting process if you are in one of these situations?
We’ve identified six special circumstances. The six groups of voters for discussion today are:
Residents without a Hawaii Driver’s License or Hawaii State ID
Military and overseas voters
Voters without a fixed address
Voters in college
Voters with criminal convictions, and
Voters with disabilities
If you find that you yourself don’t fit into any of the categories we describe, maybe a family member or friend is, and would benefit from today’s program. Don’t hesitate to share this episode with them.
Ray, start us off with our first group of voters.
Group number one: Residents without a Hawaii Driver’s License or Hawaii State ID.
Perhaps you’ve just moved to Hawaii, and haven’t gotten around to applying for your state issued ID. Maybe your son or daughter is 16 and doesn’t yet have a license. For those of you without a Hawaii Driver’s License or Hawaii State ID, you are still eligible to register to vote in Hawaii.
If you do not have a Hawaii Driver’s License or Hawaii State ID, you’ll need to skip online registration, as the online tool requires a Hawaii ID to access. Instead, complete a paper Voter Registration Application to register to vote or make updates to your voter information. You can print a paper application from elections.hawaii.gov or visit any U.S. post office or state library to pick up an application.
When filling out the paper application, mark that you do not have either forms of ID in Section 3, and provide the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. The last 4 digits of your Social Security Number fulfills the identification requirement for those without state issued ID.
In addition to new residents, this may be particularly important to our younger viewers. For our high school viewers ages 16 and 17, maybe you’re interested in pre-registering to vote but don’t have an ID to use the online registration system. The paper application is for you. Pre-register to vote through the paper application and secure yourself a mail ballot for every election after you turn 18.
Group number two: Military and overseas voters.
This group includes Hawaii residents who are members of the military, the spouses and dependents of military members, and U.S. citizens living overseas. If you fall into this group, you are eligible to vote in Hawaii’s elections.
Your voting rights are protected by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, known as UOCAVA, and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, known as the MOVE Act.
Through these federal laws, you are provided the right to receive and return your ballot electronically by email or fax, and your ballot is sent at an earlier date. Military and overseas ballots are sent no later than 45 days before Election Day to allow you ample time to vote and return your ballot.
To request a ballot, you must submit a Federal Post Card Application, also known as the FPCA, to your County Elections Division. Find the application and instructions at fvap.gov/hawaii.
You must submit your FPCA by August 6 to receive a ballot for the Primary Election. Applications must be submitted by November 1 to receive a ballot for the General Election.
Your request is valid for only one election year, so remember to submit an FPCA every election year you are away from Hawaii.
Are you a military member currently stationed in Hawaii but consider another state your main place of residence? Visit fvap.gov and select your state from the drop-down menu for instructions on registering and receiving a ballot for your home state.
Group number three: Voters without a fixed address.
Those experiencing houselessness may not always have a conventional residential address. If you fall into this group, it is important to remember that not having a conventional residential address does not prevent you from participating in Hawaii’s elections.
If you do not have a fixed address, register to vote using the paper Voter Registration Application. The application allows you to provide a description of where you reside, in place of a traditional street address. You may include descriptors like cross streets and landmarks of where you reside. Election officials will use your description to identify your voting district.
Keep in mind that you are also required to provide a mailing address to receive your mail ballot. You are permitted to provide a P.O. Box or alternative mail service option, including general delivery, as your mailing address on the application. We encourage you to contact your local post office for information about alternative mail service options. If you do not have a mailing address, you may visit a voter service center to vote in person.
Group number four: Voters in college.
Are you from Hawaii, but attending school out-of-state? If so, you are still eligible to vote in Hawaii’s elections. This means that you can vote on the contests and candidates that impact your home, while temporarily residing outside of Hawaii.
How can you do this? You can vote in Hawaii elections while you are away through absentee voting. Receive your ballot at college by submitting an Absentee Ballot Application. On the application, indicate whether you will be away for the primary, general, or both elections, and provide your current mailing address. You can print the Absentee Ballot Application from elections.hawaii.gov and mail your completed application to your County Elections Division.
The request is good for only one election cycle, so be aware that you will need to submit a new request every election year you are away from Hawaii.
If you are not already registered, you must first do so online or by submitting a Voter Registration Application alongside your Absentee Ballot Application.
You must submit the Absentee Ballot Application by the following deadlines:
August 6 to receive a ballot for the Primary Election
November 1 to receive a ballot for the General Election
We want to remind all absentee voters that your Hawaii absentee ballot must be returned to your County Elections Division in Hawaii. Use the preaddressed, postage-paid envelope included in your mail ballot packet. Do not deposit your voted ballot to a ballot drop box in your college town. Your ballot will not be counted.
Group number five: Voters with criminal convictions.
Let’s test your knowledge on voting rights for individuals with criminal convictions.
True or False: If you have a prior felony conviction, you lose your right to vote. FALSE. In Hawaii, if you were convicted of a felony, your voting rights are restored once you have completed serving your sentence.
This does not mean that you are automatically registered to vote. If you have completed serving a felony sentence, you are responsible for registering to vote through the normal registration process.
It is important to note that you are not permitted to vote if you are currently serving a sentence.
True or False: If you are placed on probation or parole, you lose your right to vote. FALSE. If you are placed on probation or parole, you still maintain your voting rights and are eligible to vote during this period.
True or False: Pre-trial detainees maintain voting rights. TRUE. Pre-trial detainees are eligible to vote. If you are pre-trial, you must utilize the Voter Registration Paper Application to register, and the Absentee Ballot Application to receive your mail ballot at the facility.
Group six: Voters with disabilities.
We previously did an entire episode for voters with disabilities and the accessible voting options that can be utilized to participate in the elections, so check out that episode if you haven’t already.
If you are disabled, there are several accessible voting options for you to consider.
If you prefer to vote from home but are unable to independently vote on a paper ballot, you can request to receive an electronic ballot. Electronic ballots are accessible and allow you to mark and review your ballot using assistive technology devices. They provide non-visual access as ballot instructions, candidates, and ballot questions can all be read through a simple screen reader.
If you prefer to vote using accessible voting equipment, you have the option to visit a voter service center. Voter service centers are in-person voting locations managed by the County Elections Divisions and are open 10 days before and through Election Day.
Voter service centers are equipped with the Verity Touch Writer, which is an accessible ballot-marking device. The Verity Touch Writer allows you to mark your ballot using a touchscreen or a tactile accessible controller which is compatible with adaptive tools such as sip-and-puff devices. The equipment is wheelchair accessible, and allows you to listen to instructions and ballot choices through headphones, and adjust display settings for better visibility.
Again, we encourage to you revisit our previous episode covering voting accessibility to learn more about the services available for voters with disabilities.
In today’s episode, we covered several categories of voters in special circumstances, and addressed how each group can navigate the registration and voting process.
We want to stress the importance of raising awareness for accommodations available to voters in special circumstances. For our viewers who are caregivers or have friends and family members who may be in any of the groups we covered, please share this episode with them. Let’s all work together to ensure that every eligible voter has the information they need to participate in Hawaii’s elections.
Thank you for joining us today! Follow us on social media at elections808 and visit our website elections.hawaii.gov for all things Hawaii elections. We’ll see you in the next one. Thanks!