Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024|
Share this story
Election officials and volunteers test vote-tallying equipment July 16 in Hilo. (Nancy Cook Lauer/West Hawaii Today)
Ballots are expected to be mailed Wednesday and arrive in Big Island mailboxes shortly after that as the nation counts down to the Nov. 8 general election.
“Essentially, it’s all systems go,” Hawaii County Clerk Jon Henricks said Friday. “We’ve prepared just as we did for the primary election, with no substantial changes to our protocols or processes.”
While some races were decided in the August primary, especially nonpartisan County Council contests, there’s still a lot for voters to decide on the general election ballot.
New this election cycle are features allowing voters to get a preview of their blank ballots before they arrive in the mail, and the chance to sign up for text, voice or email alerts about the status of their voted ballots.
The new features may be especially important this year, when the decennial reapportionment and redistricting process has put some voters — and some candidates — into different districts and put all seats in the state Legislature on the ballot, instead of the staggered terms the Senate usually experiences.
Ballot tracking has also become more popular with some national and local candidates trying to sow doubt about the integrity of the election process.
Hawaii went to all-mail balloting in 2020, with all registered voters receiving their ballots by mail. Ballot dropoff sites and voter service centers where those disinclined to go the mail route can vote in person are provided on each island.
New this election are features allowing voters to get a preview of their blank ballots before they arrive in the mail, and the chance to sign up for text, voice or email alerts about the status of their voted ballots.
While awaiting their ballots, voters can see their blank ballots before they’re mailed by visiting https://elections.hawaii.gov/ and clicking on the “View My Ballot” tab at the right.
Also on the elections site, there’s a “Sign up for ballot tracking alerts” tab.
Voter service centers open Oct. 25 and close after the last person in line at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 has voted. Hawaii Island’s voter service centers are at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona and the Aupuni Center in Hilo. They’re open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 8.
Drop-off sites, known in election vernacular as “place of deposit,” are open 24 hours a day starting Wednesday. They’re located at the county building in Hilo, the Naalehu police station, Pahoa police station, Rodney Yano Hall in Captain Cook, Waikoloa Community Association and Waimea police station. Ballots can also be dropped off at the voter service centers.
Probably the most important contest is the race for governor. Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat who has also served in the state House and Senate, has a sizeable money lead and name recognition over former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, who served under former GOP Gov. Linda Lingle. But Aiona has picked up support in the form of endorsements, including one from the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, who acknowledged his background as a former circuit court judge and Honolulu city prosecutor.
Green’s running mate Sylvia Luke, a 10-year member of the state House, And Aiona’s running mate, Seaula Tupai Jr., a Hilo pastor and youth football coach, round out the gubernatorial tickets.
At the top of the ballot, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat and Hawaii’s senior senator who was first elected in 2012, is expected to easily overcome a crowded field that includes Libertarian Feena M. Bonoan, Aloha Aina Party candidate Dan Decker, Republican Bob McDermott and Green Party candidate Emma Jane A. Pohlman.
The open race for the Congressional District 2 seat features Democrat Jill Tokuda, a former state senator and executive director for the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center on Maui, Republican Joe Akana, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst and business executive and Libertarian Michelle Rose Tippens, an Army vet and founder of the Hawaii Veterans Cannabis Alliance.
In addition, there are eight state House and Senate races still undecided on the Big Island.
In Senate District 1, Democratic Sen. Lorraine Rodero Inouye, who was redistricted out of her old Senate District 4, faces off against Republican Helen C. Tupai.
In District 2, incumbent Sen. Joy San Buenaventura is challenged by Libertarian Fred F. Fogel and Republican Holly L. Osborn. The District 4 open seat features Hawaii County Councilman Tim Richards, the Democrat, and Republican Nicholas M. Tancheff.
In the House racers, incumbent Democratic District 3 state Rep. Chris Todd faces Aloha Aina Party candidate Devinshaw K. McMackin Sr.
Incumbent Democratic District 4 Rep. Greggor Ilagan faces three opponents: Republican Keikilani Ho, nonpartisan candidate Brian Ley and Libertarian Candace T. “Candy” Linton.
Incumbent Democratic District 5 Rep. Jeanne Kapela faces Libertarian Michael Last and Republican Lohi Goodwin.
The open District 6 seat, a result of an additional House seat granted to the Big Island during the reapportionment process, has Democrat Kirstin A.K. Kahaloa running agasint Republican Jonathan P. Kennealy.
And in the renumbered District 8, Democratic incumbent David A. Tarnas faces Republican Monique CobbAdams Perreira.
Two nonpartisan Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees races are also up for vote.
In the Hawaii Island residency seat, Native Hawaiian activist Mililani B. Trask, who was voted on the OHA board in February to fill a vacancy, faces Hope Alohalani Cermelj, a member of the Lawful Hawaiian Government.
For the at-large OHA Board of Trustees seats, voters can select three from this list: Lei Ahu Isa, Brickwood Galuteria, Sam King, Chad Owens, Keoni Souza and John D. Waihee.
There is one County Council runoff contest on the ballot. In the District 2 primary election, Jennifer “Jenn” Kagiwada had just a 40 vote lead — about half a percentage point — over Matthias Kusch in a race that drew 6,971 votes for candidates. The two face off for the seat being vacated by Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung.
Finally, there are proposed amendments to the county charter.
“These proposed amendments were put forth by the County Council for the voter’s consideration. They pertain to the membership of the Board of Ethics, the duties of the Office of the County Auditor, and the establishment of a Youth Commission,” said Henricks.
Under the proposals, the membership of the Board of Ethics would increase from five members to seven members, the duties of the Office of the County Auditor would be expanded to include investigating allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse within Hawaii County and a Youth Commission would be formed, consisting of at least nine but no more than 15 members between the ages of 14 and 24-years old, whose duties would include advising the mayor, County Council, and official agencies of the county on legislative and budgetary matters, assess existing programs and advance new programs that support youth development, and encourage and coordinate youth participation in county initiatives and other forms of civic engagement.
To view the full text of the proposed Charter amendments and the Fiscal Impact Statement prepared by the Department of Finance, voters can go to www.hawaiicounty.gov/charteramendments.
Email Nancy Cook Lauer at email@example.com.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *