Puna voters assigned new polling place

The state is asking Pahoa voters who could be impacted by the June 27 lava flow to plan on casting their votes at an alternate site.

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The state is asking Pahoa voters who could be impacted by the June 27 lava flow to plan on casting their votes at an alternate site.

Voters assigned to Pahoa Community Center (precinct 04-03) who live north of where the flow is expected to cut across Highway 130 may vote at Hawaiian Paradise Community Center (precinct 04-01) in the Nov. 4 General Election, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the state Office of Elections.

“The flow is expected to cross Highway 130, cutting off access to voters living in Ainaloa and Orchidland Estates,” Chief Election Officer Scott Nago said in the release. “We’ll be providing poll workers at Hawaiian Paradise Community Center with the poll books and ballots to allow voters in these communities the opportunity to vote on Nov. 4.”

In a phone interview Tuesday, Nago estimated about 2,000 voters could be impacted by the move, while the remaining 1,300 voters not affected still would cast ballots at Pahoa Community Center.

Nago said additional equipment will be needed at the alternate site in order to handle the influx of voters from Pahoa, but added volunteers would be able to make the transition.

“We’ll just be shifting workers over to Hawaiian Paradise Park,” he said.

He added that there’s always a concern some volunteers won’t show up, so plans are in place for standby workers to be ready to go should they be needed.

“One thing we learned from (Tropical Storm Iselle) is that there’s always a need to help the community,” Nago said. “A lot of people were willing to sacrifice their time to help out.”

In preparation for the lava flow, county election officials mailed absentee mail applications to voters in the area and set up an early voting location at Nanawale Community Center, which will remain open through Friday.

So far, Nago said, about 200 voters have filled out early voting ballots at the location.

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Meanwhile, Tuesday was the last day to request absentee ballots.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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