HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are still four more days left to get your ballot cast by Election Day on Nov. 3, and already Hawaii has cast an all-time record number of votes.
Officials say that it’s been an unexpected plus for the first year of a vote-by-mail program rolled out in record time.
More than 484,000 people have already mailed back or dropped off their ballots or voted in person at the handful of voting service centers statewide in this all-mail election.
“That’s more than the 2008 election where 456,000 people cast a ballot, and we’ve got four days to go,” said Hawaii’s Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago. “It’s been manageable. It’s been unexpected, but manageable.”
Even as of today, that’s already a turnout nearing 60 percent of Hawaii’s more than 832,000 registered voters, after years of general election cycles that were stuck in the 50s.
You’d have to go back to the first Obama election of 2008 to get anywhere close in both overall ballots cast and percent voting.
“This is record-breaking for the primary and the general elections,” said Honolulu County Clerk Glen Takahashi. “I wish we had two years to plan for it, but we did it in the one-year planning so hopefully it will come out as well as it did in the primary election.”
Here’s how it’s stacking up across the islands as of Friday: Honolulu voters cast about 326,000 ballots turned in so far, the Big Island tally is at more than 73,000, Maui County is closing in on 57,000 and Kauai voters have submitted around 27,000 ballots.
Officials have not seen delays in the mail system, but this past Tuesday was the recommended cutoff for sticking ballots in the mail.
“Fortunately, because we got ahead of the curve, a lot of the messaging was ‘Mail your ballot back early, don’t wait until the last minute,’” Nago said.
“We recommend people use the drop boxes now, if at all possible, just to guaranty that it’s in,” Takahashi said.
Honolulu officials say that about 17 percent of votes cast have been submitted to the drop-boxes, which are collected daily.
Voter service centers (VSCs) — two each on Oahu and the Big Island, and one on all other islands — will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
“So far it’s been pretty steady, about 900 voters a day going through our two (VSC) sites, and that kind of number isn’t going to overwhelm us at all, but we’ll see come Monday and Tuesday, and over the weekend,” said Takahashi.