Election officials discuss improvements for next election

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Election officials said they are reviewing how election-day went after thousands showed-up for in-person voting services on election day.

a group of people standing on a sidewalk: Many last-minute voters turned out to voter service centers on Oahu (Kapolei Hale and Honolulu Hale) to cast their ballots on Election Day.

© Provided by Honolulu KHNL
Many last-minute voters turned out to voter service centers on Oahu (Kapolei Hale and Honolulu Hale) to cast their ballots on Election Day.

According to Honolulu City Clerk Glen Takahashi, more than 4,500 people used the voter services centers on Oahu — seemingly more than anyone anticipated.

“The voter service center is really an adjunct process and is meant to service those special cases,” Takahashi said. “Address updates, Election Day registration, perhaps accessible voting machines. I think we need to do additional work and communicating to the public that this is a vote by mail jurisdiction.”

Takahashi said that the high number of in-person voters was unexpected, but there will be open discussions in the future about adding more service centers. He said he is pleased with record-breaking turn-out with mail-in voting.

According Takahashi, about 50 voting machines were available to in-person voters on election day.

Common Cause Hawaii, a non-profit organization supporting democracy and other processes such as voting, said they warned election officials that eight voter service centers throughout the state would not be enough on election day.

“We saw this coming,” said Sandy Ma, the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii. “We nearly filed a lawsuit in August over the vote by mail process and needing more voter service centers. We support vote-by-mail. We alerted the state in the counties about the long lines forming. But our warnings were not headed. And it’s unfortunate.”

Ma said Common Cause volunteers also reported hour-plus waits at centers on Maui and the Big Island.

Newly state-senator-elect Chris Lee co-wrote the vote-by-mail legislation. He’s happy with mail-in results and voter turnout, but said there needs to be enough voting spaces available and hopes for more in the future. He said while the law-makers laid out a plan, it was up to individual counties to determine how many service centers were available.

“I think the biggest thing yesterday was that there were obviously a lot of last minute voters who waited till the very last day, sometimes the very last hour, of the very last day to vote,” Lee said. “Which is still okay. I think going forward in future elections, it needs to be made sure there’s better ability to predict these things, and have enough voting spaces available to make sure that people can get their vote processed on a timely basis.”

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