HONOLULU (KHON2) — Elections are coming up, and ballots can be cast just weeks from now in the 2022 primary. There are lots of changes this year.
Redistricting puts all local legislature seats up for grabs. It’s the second all-mail election cycle. There are new ways officials are securing your vote, and how you can look out for your own ballot status.
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Registered voters, get ready to find your primary election ballot in the mail around July 26. This year, you can track the whole process start to finish. Last election in 2020, you could track whether your ballot was received, but this time:
“If you sign up for alerts, you’ll know when your ballot was created and when you should be expecting it in the mail,” explained Scott Nago, Hawaii’s chief elections office, “either voice, email or text messages, and it will tell you where your ballot is in the process as well as when you return your ballot. It’ll let you know if your ballot has been received and processed for counting.”
You can sign up for that at the Office of Elections website.
This time around you may have seen some different color cards come in the mail.
“The blue card recipients were the ones that we’re notifying them that we changed their address, so yes, they will get a ballot,” explained Honolulu City Clerk Glen Takahashi. “The white card guys are out of jurisdiction, on the mainland. They don’t get a ballot. They’re in the process of, if a certain amount of time goes by, we’re going to remove you from the list after two election cycles. There’s a business reply response card on there that says if this is not the case, then reregister, update.”
That could affect the number of registered voters by nearly 100,000 in Hawaii — 80,000 on Oahu alone.
“Eighty thousand out of 560,000, that’s about 14% deadwood or inflation of the rolls,” Takahashi said. “But that’s typical of Hawaii, generally speaking, because we’re a very transient type of community.”
Another crosscheck to make sure mail ballots don’t go to those who can’t vote:
“Notification of deaths come in to us, I believe, every month or every other month,” Takahashi said. “So we are continuously removing people because of the notifications that we get from the Department of Health.”
No mailed ballot will be counted without a signature that matches that person’s voter registration.
“If your signature doesn’t match, voters will be alerted,” Nago said. “They’ll have time to go in and correct that.”
Mailed ballots must be received by elections offices — not postmarked, but in-hand — no later than 7 p.m. on election day. That’s Aug. 13 for the primary and Nov. 8 for the general.
“The post office for us, at least here in Honolulu, really goes through a Herculean effort of making sure that they can get everything from the outlying areas back to the main airport post office so that we can get it before 7,” Takahashi said.
But if you’re cutting it close on election day, it has to go into one of the yellow drop boxes — those open as soon as July 22 depending on the island – or to a voter service center. In-person voter service centers have taken the place of the old district polling places and open Aug. 1:
*Two on Oahu — city halls in town and Kapolei — plus two shorter-duration popups with different dates in Kaneohe and Wahiawa;
* One on each island in Maui County plus an election-day pop-up in Hana;
* Two on the Big Island — Hilo and Kona; and
* One on Kauai.
“Previously, if you went to a voter service center, you had to vote on a touchscreen,” Nago explained. “Now it’s going to be a paper ballot in a voting booth that you feed through the machine.”
Staffing just a handful of voter service centers has made the usual volunteer shortage a thing of the past. All 400 people needed are accounted for.
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“The number of volunteers that we needed to recruit is much smaller than recruiting for 250 or 350 polling places,” Nago said, “so it’s a lot more manageable.”