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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 21, 2010

Special-election turnout at 48% as deadline looms

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Walk-in voters wait in line at Honolulu Hale to cast ballots in the special election. Yesterday was the last day to vote using the machines.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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People who intend to vote by mail in the special election for Congress should post their ballots today. Election officials must receive ballots by 6 p.m. tomorrow for them to be counted.

Tomorrow, people may drop off ballots from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at boxes set up at the Office of Elections headquarters at 802 Lehua Ave. in Pearl City or at the state Capitol in front of the Father Damien statue fronting Beretania Street.

Yesterday was the last day to vote in person at the walk-in voting site in Honolulu Hale.

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About half of the voters in the 1st Congressional District had turned in their ballots for the special election to replace Neil Abercrombie as of mid-afternoon yesterday, the state Office of Elections reported.

An estimated 152,000 ballots had been collected from out of 317,337 eligible voters in the winner-take-all election, said Rex Quidilla, the office's voter services coordinator. Ballots were sent to the households of eligible voters in what's been billed as the largest all-mail vote ever conducted in Hawai'i.

With two days left to go, the 48 percent turnout is considered substantial compared with recent special elections:

• During two special elections held last year to replace Honolulu City Council members the first all-mail elections held in Hawai'i 41 percent and 45 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

• During the 2003 2nd Congressional District special election, the last time there was a mid-term winner-take-all election to replace a Hawai'i House member, 13.3 percent cast ballots in a traditional, polling-place election.

The 152,000 ballots received by the elections office as of yesterday do not include the votes of about 1,900 people who have voted in person at Honolulu Hale.

That number included about 700 people who showed up at City Hall yesterday, the last day walk-in voters were being accepted there, said city elections coordinator Glenn Takahashi.

The biggest spike came around lunchtime, when the line to vote extended outside City Hall.

Before yesterday, between 100 and 200 voters were showing up daily to cast their vote, Takahashi said.

"It's been slowly increasing as we approached the final day," Takahashi said. "People wait until the last minute."

While the time to step into a ballot booth for the election has passed, voters can still drop off their ballots from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow at boxes set up at the Office of Elections headquarters at 802 Lehua Ave. in Pearl City or at the state Capitol in front of the Father Damien statue along Beretania Street.

All mailed ballots received by 6 p.m. tomorrow will also be counted.

Ballots received after that time, even if postmarked tomorrow, will not be counted.

Quidilla said he expects the first results will come out shortly after 6 p.m. tomorrow. Those results will include all ballots received through the end of business today.

While all ballots received to date have been placed into the system, they won't actually be counted until just before 6 p.m. tomorrow, he said.

A second, final printout would add votes received tomorrow. Those results will come out either late tomorrow or early Sunday, depending on how many votes there are, Quidilla said.

"I hope it's not early Sunday," he said.