The Sunshine Blog: Cleaning Up The Voter Rolls - Honolulu Civil Beat

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The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Short takes, outtakes, our takes and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

Election “integrity”: The “hottest issue” in election administration this summer is whether states should join, leave or remain in the Electronic Registration Information Center, a site where states can securely store voter registration data along with other information.

That’s according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which says that eight Republican-controlled states including Florida, Iowa and Ohio have recently resigned from ERIC citing concerns over privacy and transparency.

ERIC, a nonprofit, was set up over a decade ago to help keep voter rolls clean and up to date. Voters move to other states, for example, they die, and there are always new voters.

Excerpt from a sample ballot from 2020. (Screenshot/2020)

Hawaii, according to the NCSL article, is a member of ERIC along with 25 others states plus D.C. But the Hawaii State Office of Elections tells The Blog that Hawaii is in fact not a member. Someone at NCSL must be reading The Blog because the article was later updated to reflect our state’s status accurately.

Still, with many Donald Trump supporters still swallowing his story about the 2020 election being stolen, more states are expected to leave ERIC, and some argue that the organization has a partisan leaning. (It does not, NCSL concludes.)

Concerns about voter rolls have not gained much traction locally, but the Hawaii House Minority Caucus did introduce a bill this past session “to improve the integrity and accuracy of voter rolls, ballot security, and increases the number of voter service centers.”

The bill, which contends that Hawaii elections and especially the 2020 presidential election may well have lacked integrity, never received a hearing in the Democrat-dominated chamber.

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Coming back into the light: Once the director of communications at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (before he was ousted), and once press secretary to former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Bill Brennan has left the “dark side” of government and public relations to get back to his news roots.

Brennan, who had been working as managing director at KITV, has taken over the news director position that was held by Janice Gin.

Brennan is a former city hall reporter and an executive producer at KHON. Gin remains in Hawaii with KITV’s owner, Allen Media Group.

Bill Brennan is the new news director at KITV. (Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2018)

Time is money: There’s been a lot of griping lately from Oahu taxpayers about 64% pay raises for Honolulu City Council member salaries. The Hawaii Legislature has also taken fire for its own recent salary increases, which — like the city’s — were approved by salary commissions appointed by some of those same officials.

It seems to be going around. Oregon lawmakers are now moving to hike the salaries for governor, secretary of state, treasurer, lawmakers and other state elected officials, reportedly among the lowest-paid in the country. But it will likely do so by asking Oregon voters to amend the constitution to create a new and independent salary commission.

The issue came into focus earlier this year, reports the Oregon Capital Chronicle, when Secretary of State Shemia Fagan resigned in disgrace over a $10,000-per-month consulting contract with a cannabis company involved in an audit her office was conducting of the state agency that regulates marijuana. Fagan said her $77,000 annual salary wasn’t enough “to make ends meet.” 

The “sunshine boys”: No, we’re not referring to Joe Moore and Pat Sajak, currently yucking it in the Neil Simon play of the same name at Hawaii Theatre. We mean David Tarnas and Karl Rhoads, the judiciary committee chairs of the Hawaii House and Senate, respectively.

The boys — er, the legislators — recently appeared on “The Debrief” on Hawaii News Now to discuss what lawmakers are doing to improve accountability and transparency.

Read this next:

Neal Milner: Will The Real Hawaii Please Stand Up

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Latest Comments (0)

I'm curious, was our own State attorney general involved in any of these political takedowns? Or did it take the federal government to do each and every one of them? Where is the accountability in that? Let's get Jack Smith over here, I think he'll shake it up a little bit in our house.

Scotty_Poppins · 3 months ago

Our governing body has so many flaws. Start by implementing term limits and introducing the referendum. If it requires a concon, so be it.

Richard_Bidleman · 3 months ago

It appears the City Council salary increase is going to happen despite all the kick-back even from their own members. It is time to move on to a equally important subject. Accountability. What will the public receive for the increase in salaries and how will any actions from the individual City Council members be measured? Will there be an evaluation process developed so the public can participate through an independent survey? The City Council members are employees of the people of Honolulu and just like any other employer should have a way to evaluate the actions or inactions of the City Council members. The evaluations should also be deemed public records open to anyone interested and the results be published by CB and the S/A. I realize some of the City Council members think they know what is right for the public more than the public but they don't. I do not know enough about government to initiate something like this but I am hoping somebody will think it is a good enough idea to look into. One last thing is the proposal for City Council members not having outside employment should only apply if there is a conflict of interest or even a hint of a conflict.

Ken · 3 months ago

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