Rocky start to Special Election mail-in ballots raises eyebrows with some voters

Local News

Ballots have been mailed to residents of District 4 for the Special Election of Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters. Some folks tell us, they’ve received a ballot for family members who no longer vote in Hawaii. 

Residents we spoke to are concerned because if extra ballots were to be in the hands of the wrong person, there might be an opportunity for some to vote twice. 

Lydia Ling says she and her mother received their ballots in the mail. However, there was a third one for Ling’s father, who passed away 7 years ago.

“With the whole Ozawa-Waters election going on right now it seems a bit odd. It seemed like there’s another discrepancy going with the whole voting aspect,” said Ling. 

Another resident, who did not want to be identified, said she received a ballot for her son who hasn’t lived in Hawaii for 5 years.

“We as taxpayers are paying $250-thousand dollars for this Special Election. We’re hoping that these ballots would be very much scrutinized before it got out,” said the voter. 

We learned that this upcoming race is an all mail-in election, so registered voters will be getting ballots mailed to them. These residents are worried that the Special Election for City Council District 4 has gotten off to a rough start.

“It’s a huge public perception problem. People are already irritated already that they have to vote again and if they discover that there are voter irregularities, it’s just going to make it worse,” said Hawaii Pacific University Political Analyst John Hart. 

Hart tells us every ballot has a barcode and signatures are required to make the mail-in ballots valid. Yet there could be some issues. 

“If they are barcoding every ballot, how do they go out incorrectly in the first place?” asked Hart. 

In a 2016 Always Investigating report, KHON2’s Gina Mangieri had this to say:

What if someone on the registered voter list has since died? We asked how to be sure their absentee ballots are blocked too.

The state gives county election officials a monthly list of deceased people, and the clerks cross-reference that with registered voter lists.

We asked if this race is already flawed since there are extra ballots for non-voting family members?

“At some point, I think voter fatigue would set in,” said Hart, “whether or not the Hawaii Supreme Court will feel the same and I think this is where it ends up again. We’ll have to see.

Tuesday is a holiday so the City Clerk’s office says they are unable to respond to our questions about these extra ballots for family members who are not here, but officials will be available Wednesday. 

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