City and county clerks prepare for state’s first all mail-in election

Coronavirus

The city and county clerks in the state had about a year to prepare for the first state-wide mail-in primary and general election, senators were briefed on the process, and they want to make sure the new system counts every vote correctly.

The Honolulu City Clerk, Glen Takahashi, said ballots will be mailed in a prepaid envelope for voters to return, but each county is also setting-up drop-off ballot boxes as another option.

Takahashi said, “They are large boxes, they are about half a ton boxes and they are out there basically for whatever hours operation that these locations can support.”

Each county will have nearly a dozen ballot drop-off locations, and they will be set up about 18 days before election day. The boxes are locked and election officials will pick-up the ballots daily.

State Sen. Kurt Fevella said he has heard concerns from constituents, especially when it comes to authenticating the ballot.  

Fevella said, “I do the food distribution in senior areas and they are very afraid how secure the voting will be.”

The state’s Chief Election Officer, Scott Nago said they will verify the signature on each ballot, and counties are reaching out to voters to update signatures.

“Every ballot return needs a signature on it so it could be validated so that signature is matched,” Nago said. “If it doesn’t match, the law says you will be notified that it didn’t match and you have five days after the election to correct it but your ballot won’t be counted unless it’s corrected.” 

Although the wildcard remains COVID-19 and the handling of incoming ballots.

Takahashi said, “Our machinery as it processes these things generates this fine airborne dust and so you see how this is coming together, so if any of my staff were to get infected or whatnot that might put a pause on our operations.”

The senate committee requested for the counties to publish a map with the locations of the ballot drop-off and USPS mailboxes. In the meantime, more information on voting registration, address change, and voter centers are found on the state’s election website.

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