Some changes made to election processes amid COVID-19

Election 2020

HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are three weeks left until ballots will be mailed out for the state’s first mail-in primary elections. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Election Officer Scott Nago said some changes had to be made this year. Since voting will be mainly by mail, the changes are to indoors election processes.

While most of the ballots will come in the mail, there will be service centers that look similar to this. open across the state on election week for people to register to vote and vote on electronic machines.

“The difference is we will be following CDC recommendations regarding community and protective equipment. So, masks will be required in order to enter,” said Nago.

He said the machines are also easier to clean and move to provide space for social distancing. Each county will be in charge of setting up and running those centers.

Another change this year is, due to social distancing guidelines, they’re opting for a bigger venue on Oahu, The Hawaii Convention Center.

“When we were at the Capitol, we were actually crammed in hallways or [when] we were in the chamber. There wasn’t actually room to spread people apart, so the Convention Center affords us the ability to do that,” Nago.

Since ballots will be handled by staff, proper gear is also required.

“We would be using equipment, PPE equipment such as gloves, face shields, masks just to make sure that the election officials are safe,” said Nago.

Those changes will take place on Primary Election Day and the week leading up to it.

Here are some key dates to remember for elections.

New voters will have until July 9th to register to vote.

Ballots will be mailed out on July 21.

Primary Election day is August 8.

The Service Centers in each county for people who want to register or vote in person will open on July 27.

Nago said ballots should be mailed back by August 3 to ensure the ballot gets to them in time.

If people are unable to mail the ballots back by then, the Office of Elections will put up deposit areas where people can drop off their ballots.

Nago said mail-in voting will take some getting used to, but he said it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We are very fortunate that the legislation did pass all mail-in [voting] 2019 before the pandemic hit. This allows every voter to receive their ballot in their home and not have to leave and go to a place where there may be long lines because of the social distancing, limiting the number of people [that go] in…,” said Nago.

Election officials are holding drive-through voter registration events again this year. They will be held next Wednesday July 8 and Thursday, July 9.

The list of locations include:

Hawaii:

  • Location: Pahoa Safeway, Kona Crossroads
  • Dates: July 8 and 9
  • Hours:  9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.                     

Maui:

  • Location: Kahului Shopping Center
  • Dates: July 9 only
  • Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Kauai:

  • Location: Office of County Clerk, Elections Division (back parking area)
  • Dates: July 8 and 9
  • Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Oahu:

  • Location: Aloha Stadium (enter through Parking Gate 1 off Salt Lake Blvd.)
  • Dates: July 8 and 9
  • Hours: 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

More information can also be found at elections.hawaii.gov.

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