Hawaii elections office begins processing ballots

Election 2020

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The state has already received nearly 365,000 ballots by mail.

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“I went through a lot of ballots today and just seeing how many there are, it shows how big of an impact that all of these make,” said volunteer Trent Domingo.

The election’s office had a run-through with mail-in voting during the primary election. Many in the state voted absentee before the pandemic.

“It’s not the first time,” said Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago. “It’s just the first time we’re doing it with everyone by mail. We’ve always had high utilization of absentee mail, so it’s just a different process we got to deal with more volume and we have 10 days to do it rather than one day.”

That tally is on the heels of the 437,664 that voted in 2016, which was 58% of registered voters. A study found that Hawaii ranked dead last in the turnout of eligible voters at just 43%.

This year, already 43 percent of registered voters have sent a ballot in. The ballots opened on Saturday have already been verified with a signature before being sent to the convention center.

“We have volunteers who open it up in a two-step process,” explained Nago. “First, they’ll open up the envelope. The ballots will be in a secrecy sleeve. Then after they open up all of the envelopes, they remove the ballot from the secrecy sleeve, then they put it in a box and it gets taken over to the counters to be processed.”

There are also 20 official observers there to watch and make sure everything goes correctly.

“We’re making sure the procedures are being followed and nobody is doing anything that they’re not supposed to,” said Dennis Kam.

This process will continue until Election Day as ballots come in.

“They’ll be counted,” said Nago. “We’re not publishing results until after 7 p.m. on Election Day, but they’ll be counted then they’ll be locked up.”

Election officials added that if you want to mail in your ballot, do so by Tuesday, Oct. 27. After that, you can still get your ballot into one of the state’s drop boxes until Election Day at 7:00 pm.

You can also vote in person on Election Day, which falls on Nov. 3.

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