Deadline for mailed voter registration extended to comply with federal law

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The ACLU of Hawaiʻi learned that Monday, October 10, 2016, Hawaii’s deadline for voter registration applications for the upcoming General Election, also happened to fall on a Federal holiday (Discoverers’ Day) with no mail service.

The Hawaiʻi Office of Elections, noting the conflicting dates, had decided to only accept registration forms postmarked by Saturday, October 8, 2016, which is 31 days from election day. This date does not comply with the standards set by the National Voter Registration Act, which requires the State to accept all applications postmarked no later than 30 days from election day.

Because the window allowed by the Office of Elections was shorter than required by law, and registration forms mailed by the October 10 deadline were not going to be accepted, some Hawaiʻi voters were in potential danger of being disenfranchised in the upcoming November 8, 2016 General Election. The ACLU stepped in.

The ACLU of Hawaii wrote a demand letter to the Department of the Attorney General and the Office of Elections on Tuesday, October 18, 2016.

On Wednesday, October 19, 2016, Attorney General Chin promptly responded by letter, affirming that election officials will accept voter registration forms postmarked Tuesday, October 11, 2016 – thereby bringing Hawaiiʻs elections calendar into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act.

Legal Director Mateo Caballero said: “This is a win for voting rights – fundamental to our democracy and protected by the Constitution. It is important that the law is followed  so that all voters have fair and equal access to the polls. In fact, we are not the only state that needed to adjust deadlines this year. We are glad that the Attorney General took swift corrective action, avoiding the need for further legal action.”