HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A high-powered envelope opener is the first stop for ballots before workers begin separating and scanning them for the special election.
"We have to check every signature. We have to make sure the ballots are received. So it is labor intensive but we do it for the integrity of the election," chief election officer Scott Nago said.
The Office of Elections has set up shop in the State Capitol. From now to Saturday a room on the third floor will be a beehive of activity.
"Pre-processing is what we call it," Nago said.
Staffers will separate over 140,000 signed envelopes from the ballots they carried, then feed them into computers.
"They're just taking an image of the ballot and putting it in storage," he said.
That means no vote counting is done until the final gun.
"Saturday they push the button and it tabulates and we release results," Nago said.
Election observers monitor everything.
"We're not really looking at the marking of the ballot, just how they handle, how they process, and the flow of the ballots. We don't want to see ballots on the floor or anything like that," observer Dennis Kam said.
Voters can vote in person through Thursday at Honolulu Hale but election officials say no voter can vote twice.
"Anytime you either mail in a ballot or you vote absentee walk-in, it flags your record as voting. Therefore you cannot vote again," Nago said.
The race to fill one of Hawaii's congressional seats is the state's first all mail-in election.
More than forty percent of 317,000 ballots mailed out came back.
"You'll probably find this hard to believe but we don't pay attention to the turnout," Nago said.
That's because they're busy doing all the heavy lifting.
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