Despite easier registration rules, early voting figures remain low

Hawaii’s voter turnout is the worst in the nation.

Despite easier registration rules, early voting figures remain low
Early voter turnout appears to reflect previous elections. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii heads to the polls Tuesday and if early voting numbers are indication, turnout will be low.

By the time early and absentee mail voting ended Saturday, about 120,000 Oahu residents had cast a ballot.

The Honolulu Office of Elections said they saw 13,905 early voters and received 107,017 absentee mail ballots — about 24 percent of registered Oahu voters.

As of last Friday, Maui County had 21 percent of registered voters already cast their votes.

Meanwhile, Kauai County had 23 percent and Hawaii County had 24 percent.

Toan Doran was one of many voters who were surprised with the speed of early walk-in voting Friday afternoon at Honolulu Hale. He says he was in and out in five minutes.

All it takes is your ID, filling out a short form, and maybe a little standing in line.

“I wish more people cared about voting. I mean, this is our civic duty and a lot of people around the world would give their left arm to do what we are able to do,” Doran said.

The low voter turnout numbers aren’t all that surprising to experts.

Hawaii ranked dead last in voter turnout during the 2016 election.

“It’s going to be business as usual. Even by Hawaii standards, this here locally is a tremendously boring election,” said HNN political analyst Colin Moore.

Moore says even when there’s no dramatic race or hot button ballot issue, voting in every election is still important. If nothing else, it’s just good practice.

“That’s what we would really like to see young people do is to make voting a habit like you make going to the gym a habit. You just need to think of yourself as always a voter,” Moore added.

The good news: Residents can still vote on election day, even if they’re not registered.

It’s the first general election in Hawaii with same-day registration, and officials are hopeful would-be voters take advantage of it.

Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday. To find your polling place or for more information on registration, click here.

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