Categorized | Elections, Featured, News

No absentee ballot drop off in Kona

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Voters with absentee ballots still in their hands may need to make other plans. The Elections Office at West Hawaii Civic Center no longer is accepting dropped off ballots.

Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, who also is overseeing the Aug. 11 Primary Election on the Big Island, on Monday closed the Kona elections office and said voters now have three ways to return ballots:

* Mail them to Elections Division, 25 Aupuni St., Hilo, HI 96720

* Hand deliver to the Elections Division, 25 Aupuni St., Hilo

* Hand deliver to any polling place 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 11

The only Kona elections office staffer – a temporary hire identified as Odetta Shimozu – is no longer working in that position.

A second Elections Division temporary hire, Leinaala Lee, also appears to have been removed from the office in Hilo.

Kawauchi declined to comment on personnel issues, as is standard practice, and referred questions to Altes staffing agency, which contracts with the county to provide 10-12 temporary workers during election season. However, Kawauchi called Monday’s press conference for 5 p.m., after regular business hours.

Approximately 20,000 absentee ballots were sent out, Kawauchi said, with slightly more than 10,000 completed ballots already submitted to the Elections Division.

That leaves another 10,000 Big Island voters with uncompleted ballots that need to be at the Hilo office by Saturday in order to be counted.

Kawauchi was not able to provide more specific numbers.

At Monday evening’s press conference, Kawauchi said another staffer likely would be manning the Kona office this week, but will not be accepting absentee ballots.

The worker – possibly Deputy County Clerk Steve Kawena Lopez – will only be available to answer questions.

Meanwhile, early walk-in voting continues uninterrupted across the courtyard at West Hawaii Civic Center.

On Saturday, that walk-in voting site will become a polling place. However, between now and then, it is deemed a walk-in voting site and will not be able to accept dropped off absentee ballots.

With no elections staff in Kona, voters were left to ask county staff in adjacent offices for assistance. Last week, voters were able to drop off their ballots at the elections office.

Kawauchi denied there was election equipment left unattended in the Kona elections office. The material consists of signage, she said.

She also denied reports that ballots sat unsecured and unattended in the County Building mail room in Hilo. She said county staff have been helping process the ballots, which generally means sorting incoming ballots according to district and precinct.

Ballots are locked up in a secure location, she said, until they are counted on Saturday after polls close.

Although she confirmed 101,728 residents are registered voters on the Big Island, Kawauchi again could not say this how many are in each district. Members of the media have been asking for those figures for at least two weeks.

Of the 100,061 registered voter in Hawaii County, 39,477 cast their ballots in 2010 Primary Election. Early walk-8,870 voted during early walk-in voting.

At 39.5 percent, that’s slightly lower than the state average turnout of 42.8 percent.

Also Monday, Kawauchi released the following statement:

YOUR VOTE COUNTS! EARLY WALK-IN VOTING IS AN EASY, FAST AND CONVENIENT OPTION FOR YOU

All 101,000 Hawaii County registered voters have the option to vote early and walk in at early voting walk-in sites in Hilo, Waimea and Kona.

If you are registered to vote in any district on the island, you
may walk in at any location and vote, no prior sign up necessary.

Early voting began on July 30, 2012. There are only three (3) days left to walk in and vote early, early voting walk-in sites will remain open from Aug. 6, 2012 – Aug. 9, 2012 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.,
including the lunch hour.

Early walk-in voting is easy, fast and convenient. As of Aug. 4, 2012, approximately 2,500 registered voters have voted early in Hilo, Waimea and Kona. This is an average of 500 voters each day.

Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi stated, “I receive daily reports from our early voting walk-in sites in Hilo, Waimea and Kona. The chairpersons from each site are reporting that voting is going smoothly and that each voter is able to walk in and vote within 10 to 15 minutes. Primary Election day is Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012. I encourage all registered voters to walk in and vote early to avoid weekend scheduling conflicts and long precinct lines. Hawaii Island residents are the priority and their vote counts. I am encouraging all Hawaii Island residents to participate in the 2012 Primary Election so that their voice may be heard and their vote may be counted.”

Early Walk-In Voting Information for Primary Election

* All 101,000 registered voters may vote at any walk-in site in Hilo, Waimea and Kona

* All walk-in sites are open daily, last day is Aug. 9

* Voting is available all day from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (including lunch hours)

* Walk-in sites in Hilo, Waimea and Kona

— Hilo: Aupuni Center, 101 Pauahi Street
— Waimea: Waimea Community Center, 65-1260 Kawaihae Road
— Kona: West Hawaii Civic Center, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Building G

For more information, contact Jamae Kawauchi, Hawaii County Clerk, at 961-8532.

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For further information about the county Elections Division, including a complete list of polling places, which will be accepting absentee ballots on Saturday, visit: www.hawaiicounty.gov/lb-clerk-elections

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UPDATE:

On Tuesday, Rex Quidilla, of the state Office of Elections, provided the numbers of registered voters by district.

Here’s the break down:

District 1: 11,203
District 2: 13,291
District 3: 12,735
District 4: 10,996
District 5: 10,137
District 6: 10,650
District 7: 10,639
District 8: 10,436
District 9: 11,641

With these numbers, observers can see just how close a race is.

For bi-partisan races – such as County Council – a candidate with 50 percent plus one vote wins outright.

Closer races will need to be contested in the November General Election.

3 Responses to “No absentee ballot drop off in Kona”

  1. waimeajim says:

    Voter fraud? Stuffing ballot boxes? This needs to be audited….

  2. Konakai says:

    The State of Hawaii continues to operate where fraud is always an issue it it’s elections and day to day operations and elections. I don’t know another state in the union that operates in a manner that the citizens are always asking. “What is going on with our state government? Are there no balance and checks for this?”

  3. onyou says:

    Well sounds like the County Clerk for Hilo’s got her act together…Good Job Jamae Kawauchi!!

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