State senators shelved a bill Thursday that was aimed at preserving the integrity of absentee voting, an option that has become increasingly popular in Hawaii.

House Bill 1027 would have prohibited employers, unions and political candidates from helping voters complete their absentee ballots. It also would have required absentee voters to sign a letter saying they completed their ballot without the influence of others.

Senate Judiciary and Labor Chair Clayton Hee said the law would be “unenforceable.” He did not elaborate and the other committee members quietly went along with his recommendation to defer the bill.

HB 1027, which some call The Romy Cachola Bill, cleared the House earlier this month with support from the prosecutor’s office, city clerk, League of Women Voters and Common Cause.

Some testified that it would address concerns raised in the primary election  last year between Cachola and Nicole Velasco in the race for the state House District 30 seat. Cachola won by 120 votes.

As Civil Beat’s Chad Blair reported:

Research showed that more than 70 percent of those who voted for Cachola did so via a mail-in ballot, by far the highest percentage in Hawaii. It was also not the first time that Cachola had benefitted from an unusually high percentage of absentee support. 

Civil Beat also interviewed one family in District 30 that accused Cachola of pressuring their grandmother to complete her ballot in front of him. He then took the ballot and mailed it for her, they said.

Cachola strongly denied the allegations of voter intimidation, though he did acknowledge that he helps constituents with ‘voter education’ so the ballots aren’t spoiled.

Read past Civil Beat coverage here.

Nathan Eagle