Voting By Mail

Please Consider The Disabled (March 5, 2018)

While individuals with disabilities support a voting by mail system, such a system needs to be one that provides equal access for all voters. I raised this issue in my testimony last year and I am concerned that it was given insufficient consideration in the editorial “This Time Hawaii Lawmakers Must Deliver On All-Mail Elections.”

The editorial states that “[i]t can also be difficult for seniors and the disabled to show up to cast a ballot.” That fails to take into consideration that the bill will reduce the number of polling places, which will make it more difficult for individuals with disabilities to vote.

Instead of showing “up to cast a ballot” at their regular, convenient and familiar polling location, many disabled individuals might have to travel to remote and unfamiliar voting service centers to use an accessible voting machine.

How the presidential candidates appeared on Hawaii’s 2016 general election ballot. Hawaii Office of Elections

Furthermore, a vision-disabled voter could not complete a paper ballot without assistance from another individual. The same might be true for someone with motor disabilities; however, pushing a button on a voting machine might be possible.

Every voter should have the option to complete their ballot independently and secretly and this might not be the case for a vision-disabled voter unless the bill ensures equal voting rights for individuals with disabilities. There is no language in the current voting by mail bill that requires that ballots be accessible. 

I submitted testimony at the House Finance Committee hearing requesting that language be provided in the bill to allow accessible ballots to be transmitted electronically to individuals with disabilities. Insertion of this language could help to ensure that the Office of Elections implements software that would send an accessible ballot that could be filled out on a person’s computer and mailed back to the Office of Elections.

This software would allow people to vote independently and secretly. Such software is currently being used in several other states. The right to vote independently and secretly using absentee ballots has been litigated in other states. Several of these cases were cited in my testimony.

I support voting by mail provided that it includes equal accessibility for voting by individuals with disabilities and does not increase the obstacles that individuals with disabilities must surmount in order to participate in the voting process. I personally believe that some attention should have been in Civil Beat’s editorial to discussing that the voting by mail system should not discriminate against the disabled.

— Peter L. Fritz, Manoa

Fourth Time A Charm? (March 5, 2018)

Your editorial sums up all the good reasons for the legislature to pass House Bill 2541, “Relating to Elections.”

If there’s an upside from having to wait more than four years for this all-mail voting bill to be passed by the Legislature, it’s the fact that time provided a chance to integrate this important change with existing elections law and provided more than enough opportunity for the public to weigh in on the measure.

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii is very proud to support this bill.

— Janet F. Mason, Niu Valley, Co-Chair, Legislative Committee, League of Women Voters of Hawaii

Abandoned Vehicles

The Problem Is Back Taxes (March 4, 2018)

Regarding derelict vehicles, everyone agrees that it’s an eyesore, wasteful, problematic … blah, blah. I don’t know the solution either, but what seems to be missing from the discussion is the ridiculous cost of back taxes on these vehicles.

I see tons of cars in my neighborhood or on Craigslist that are in good to great condition, that for one reason or another were not kept current. With all the stories about the cost of living here (percent of income for housing, monster home, etc.), it seems plausible that in a crunch registration doesn’t get paid. It’s compounded by the city’s greed to pay for rail; registration keeps increasing.

I don’t understand why someone who wants to buy the car needs to pay all the back taxes. These are the vehicles everyone complains about.

Get rid of the back taxes and get these vehicles back on the road. I guarantee many of these vehicles would no longer be parked on your street or in your communities.

— Mark Lau, Nanakuli

Comments? We Get Comments

A Necessary Move (March 3, 2018)

The recent decisions by the editors and staff of the news site Honolulu Civil Beat to eliminate and expurgate the comments sections on each and every article and story posted on said site strikes this writer as a logical and sadly necessary move.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that a number of people saw the comments section of articles as a soap box to rant and rave, a speaker’s corner in which to declaim their rabid political, economic and sometimes personally bizarre views of life and different ethnic groups.

Civil Beat has also initiated a Letters to the Editor section. This is another logical and welcome move. Quite frankly, in the more than 20 years I was a journalist, every newspaper — large, medium or small —that I wrote for had a letters section whether continually active or on only visible on rare occasions. Having a letters section forced any wannabe correspondent or petitioner of grievances to cohesively craft a missive that makes their argument in a logical and rational manner.

Finally, a word about the complaints by some readers decrying the end of the comment section and decrying it as “censorship.” To begin with, having a comment section is not a requirement but a choice. If Civil Beat chooses not to have a section, they are exercising their rights as not only a news organization but a private entity and they should be respected for making such a decision.

After all, readers are not stockholders. You do not have a say in how Civil Beat is run and how issues and events are covered and reported here. You simply have an opinion, nothing more or less. You can still exercise that opinion on Civil Beat’s Facebook page or even choose to write a Community Voice piece for yourself if you so choose. However, you shouldn’t imagine thinking that stating your opinion on one news site is some inviolate “free speech” right and that eliminating a comments section takes away your “rights” — it does no such thing.

So, again I applaud Civil Beat for taking this long overdue step and eliminating the comments section. Hopefully this creates greater civility and promote proper behavior from letter writers.

— Albert Lanier, Honolulu

Weighing In (March 3, 2018)

I rarely weigh in on things like this but am compelled to send you this. I fully support Civil Beat and all that you are about.

I want to thank you for changing your way of getting reader feedback. Yes, only a few voices are willing to get out there, give their opinion and/or get attacked.

 Experiments never fail. I applaud you for trying out another way of being relevant and allowing other voices to weigh in. Your willingness to think “out of the box” and be willing to reinvent yourselves will surely lead to your success.

Hopefully, the same voices will not dominate the in-person discussions.

Mahalo for all that you do,

— Evern Williams, Honolulu

Write a letter to Civil Beat. Send to and put Letter in the subject line. 200 words max. You need to use your name and city and include a contact phone for verification purposes. The opinions and information expressed in letters are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.