Large turnout overwhelms some polling sites on Hawaii GOP caucus night

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Although local GOP officials were anticipating large turnouts Tuesday night, it appears they might have been caught off guard by just how large the turnout was.

With voters across the country turning out in record numbers, local Republican party officials were hoping to ride the wave of interest here.

And from all indications, the groundswell arrived as hoped.

“I think it is good a lot of people are showing up despite the weather and I think there is some fairly intense feelings on who they want but not necessarily if they like a candidate but because they don’t like a certain candidate they are coming out to the poles today,” said Kimon Nicolaides, a Hawaii Kai resident.

State party leaders say they hoped to double the turnout of the 2012 caucus.

They printed 30,000 ballots, and said runners could deliver more as needed, but before they could vote, new party members had to sign up and therein lied the problem.

We were told lines were long, sign up was slow, and were told many potential party members, chose to leave.

“They only had one lap top there and so everybody was starting to get upset because they were kind of shouting like hey you told us to get in line over here now we got to get in that line and so by that time I figured there’s no way I’m going to get in that line so I said I’m leaving,” said Waipahu resident Manuel Garcia.

He described the polling site there as “complete chaos.”

“Yeah, there’s been a few of those,” said Hawaii GOP chair Fritz Rohlfing. “In 2012 we had some of those problems and we did everything we could to try and put in our best practices so that even if there are long lines we can handle it.”

With only 2 hours to caucus time was of the essence, and time will tell if the local GOP lost out on what was perhaps it’s best chance in recent memory to grow the party.

“The national coverage may have swayed some peoples opinions back and forth but it is the first time that we have really had a chance to actually vote on a person or a caucus or whatever you want to call it so I am really pleased with it. maybe these 19 delegates will make a difference but who knows,” said Hawaii Kai resident Richard Page.

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