Honolulu’s Election Administrator is responding to concerns by voters about ballots being sent to people who no longer live in the area or who’ve passed away. It’s for the Honolulu City Council District 4 Special Election between Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters.

The City Clerk’s Election Administrator tells us they have safeguards in place for these kinds of gaps in the system. He tells us to fix it, they rely on the public to update their voter registration.

Election Administrator Rex Quidilla tells us the voter registry is protected by federal law and upkeeping it is a challenge. Quidilla says even if registered voters don’t vote, officials still can’t take them off the list. 

There are certain steps for removing a voter who has died or no longer lives in the district, but officials heavily rely on the public to keep them informed.

“If you don’t tell us that you moved away and you have the ability to receive mail, for instance, you register to vote in high school, never voted but your parents continue to receive your mail. We don’t know if you did move so we rely on the public to let us know,” said Quidilla. 

The City Clerk’s office also receives quarterly death lists from the Department of Health but there may be some gaps in the data.  

“There may be occasional instances where the data was not forward to us or didn’t completely match what we had in the voters roll, so we couldn’t with absolute certain remove that voter,” said Quidilla. 

So how does the City Clerk’s office make sure this special election is done right?

“We wouldn’t allow any single individual to send two ballots. All the transactions are monitored. We compare signatures on every single mail piece. We will be contacting voters if signatures do not match,” said Quidilla. “It helps if the public does report to us whether someone has moved, has passed away, and so we don’t have to expend the resources to mailing ballots that ultimately would not count anyway because that voter is no longer with us.”

The office does get hundreds of pieces of mail that bounce back. That’s another way they can tell if the voter is no longer there. When that happens officials send a follow-up mailer asking for an update. If that bounces back, then they wait for 2 election cycles before removing them from the voter registry.