Hawaii is an island-state located in Oceania. It is the most recent and the last state to join the United States of America. Hawaii is uniquely geographically as it is the only state not located in the Americas. It is comprised of around a thousand islands scattered over 1,500 miles. It has eight (8) main islands with Honolulu as its capital. It is also known as the Aloha State and the Paradise of the Pacific.
Hawaii’s Corrections Division is in charge of four (4) jails, four (4) prisons and one (1) facility house located throughout the state. There are four jails in Hawaii namely Kauai Community Correctional Center, Hawaii Community Correctional Center, Oahu Community Correctional Center and Maui Community Correctional Center. While there are four prisons namely Waiawa Correctional Facility, Halawa Correctional Facility, Women’s Community Correctional Center and Kulani Correctional Facility. All four prisons are found in Oahu. The facility house called Saguaro Correctional Center is located in the mainland.
Once a person is convicted for an offense, his or her life totally changes. This is not only while he or she serves his time in prison but also after his sentence. Most states in America limit the civil and political rights of convicted felons. However, this is unconstitutional according to some law experts. Pamela S. Karlan, a professor of Public Interest Law at Stanford University, asserts that the Eight Amendment prohibits ‘excessive’ sanctions. Furthermore, she says that, “the states which continue to exclude offenders permanently should be considered as outliers.”
Can felons vote in Hawaii?
In Hawaii, offenders currently serving their sentence are not allowed to vote. However, those who committed misdemeanor offenses are allowed to vote through an absentee ballot. Those who are on parole or probation are given such right.
Voting rights advocates assert that the United States disenfranchises more individuals than any country in the world. In Hawaii alone, 6,000 residents are stripped off of their right to vote.
Pro-felon voting supporters point out that felony disenfranchisement should be stopped. They further argue that voting is counter-productive to the goal of public safety. It cuts off the released prisoner from his society thereby giving him more reasons to again commit a crime.
Felon disenfranchisement in no way prevents crime nor compensates the victims. It should be noted that the Constitution provides that voting is a right and not a mere privilege.
How can felons restore their voting rights?
As repeatedly aforementioned throughout the article, the right of suffrage is restored to the felons once they finish serving their sentence. However, there is a need to re-register in order to be able to vote again.
Here are the following steps when registering for the next elections:
- Upon final discharge, the former felon must register again either online or personally.
- When registering online, visit www.olvr.hawaii.gov. To complete the application, one must have a state ID or a Hawaii driver’s license.
- For those who are registering personally, you register at any of these places:
- Clerk’s Office
- Office of Elections
- State Libraries
- State Agencies
- U.S. Post Offices
- Satellite City Halls
- The applicant will receive a yellow notification card a few weeks before the day of Election. This contains your verification as registered voter and your polling precinct.
- On the day of the Election, bring a proof of identification. Such document must prove your date of birth and residence.
Those who wish to vote in the next primary election must comply with the aforementioned steps before the deadline of registration on July 12, 2018. While on the other hand, for general election, it is on October 8, 2018.