As East Honolulu special election approaches, a new issue draws more scrutiny

A scrutinized special election in Hawaii Kai may have run into another error

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The race for Honolulu City Council between Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters is heating up as voters in East Honolulu began receiving ballots in the mail.

The special election is set for April 13. It’s taking place after the November election results were invalidated by the Hawaii Supreme Court because of errors.

Now, more concerns are coming to light after one voter says she was sent two ballots in the mail.

The woman -- who did not want to be identified -- says both envelopes have her name and Maunalani Heights address. She also lives alone.

"I noticed right away there were two yellow envelopes," said the woman. "I opened them and I was stunned to see that there were two mail-in ballots for the same election."

She says it's a major mistake in a race that is already heavily scrutinized. She says like many East Honolulu residents, she hopes this election will finally be decided.

“I want this whole thing to be settled. But because this has happened, either Mr. Ozawa or Mr. Waters could question the result based on this glitch. And I wouldn’t blame them,” she said.

The mixup also worries the candidates.

"That's terrible," said Waters. "That's a taint on the election already and it hasn't even started yet."

"You would think the fact that we're spending $250,000 for this new election that we would get it right," Ozawa said.

Rex Quidilla, Honolulu's Election Administrator, says its unclear why the woman received two ballots.

He says this case is extremely rare and that there are safeguards in place to ensure no one casts more than one ballot.

"On every return envelope, there's a bar code. And the bar code matches a transaction, so we're able to keep track of pieces that come back and make sure there's no two ballots for one voter," Quidilla said.

Quidilla says automation was used to mail 62,000 ballots to voters in Council District 4.

He says in a tight race like this one, they're encouraging voters to double check their ballots.

"The last race was decided by 22 votes, so every vote counts. In a household where there will be more than one voter, make sure you sign your envelope. If it doesn't match the signature we have on file, we can't count your ballot," Quidilla said.

If you have any questions about your ballot, you're encouraged to call the City Clerk's office.

The special election is set for Saturday, April 13th.

While the election is being conducted by mail, those who prefer to vote in person can do so at Honolulu Hale starting April 1.

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