Storms could impact primary election - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Storms could impact primary election

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Primary election day is this Saturday and the concern is two coming storms could impact voter turnout.

Some people are being proactive. We spoke with registered voters who cast their ballot today just in case things get ugly on Saturday. Early voting is taking place now in all counties. Voting hours vary depending on location. Early voting ends on Thursday.

People cited heavy rains, power outages, blocked roads and just plain bad weather as reasons why they weren't waiting to vote on Saturday. One of those people is a hurricane insurance underwriter who is predicting her office is going to get very busy later this week.

"I just wanted to make sure I got in and voted just in case. We have the storms on the way and I want to be sure if we get busy this weekend at work that I made sure I cast my vote," said Leslie Door, Zephyr Insurance Co.

"If there is a problem with the weather I want to make sure my vote does count. Because I feel it is an important election," said Lyle Maetani, who voted early.

The voting machines do run on batteries so they could still work in a power outage. So far the State Office of Elections says walk in voting is similar to the last election but as word spreads about the storms that could increase.

In the 90's a voting hours were extended because of bad weather and just two years ago Governor Neil Abercrombie did use his powers to extend voting hours on the Big Island when there were some technical issues. At least right now the State doesn't expect the weather to affect the voting process on Saturday.

State leaders are preparing for a category one hurricane to hit Hawaii. They are working off the forecast that 50-70 mile per hour sustained winds are expected. The Federal government will deploy an incident management assistance team Tuesday in advance of the storm.

"We believe there will be storm impacts to all the islands," said Doug Mayne, Hawaii Civil Defense Vice Director.

That's concerning considering there is a statewide election just five days away, however they think the worst will be over by Saturday morning. The Governor repeatedly asked people not to speculate.

"Let's find out what the realities are let’s not waste time on scenarios, leave that to Hollywood," said Governor Neil Abercrombie.

The Governor has the power to postpone the election or extend voting hours if weather is bad. It's an interesting wrinkle considering he is on the ballot, but says any decision he makes would not be political.

"We have a very specific set of protocols, rules and regulations that we are all following starting with me. Everything we do with regard to any emergency that comes up follows those lines specifically and categorically," said Governor Abercrombie.

If evacuations are needed the State is trying to figure out how many shelters are also polling places and if that would cause problems. But they just aren't going into worst case scenarios.

"Anything could always happen Tim but we're on a firm footing on the Governor's authority to take appropriate action under the emergency powers and we'll do that in a responsible manner," said David Louie, State Attorney General.

Even if the election hours aren't impacted the weather could impact voter turnout. Governor Abercrombie and his opponent State Senator David Ige are encouraging people to vote early if they are able.

Related links: 

Tropical Storm Julio following close to Iselle's track towards islands

HNN Hurricane Center

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