On Kauai, walk-in voting will (mostly) be a thing of the past in the 2020 election
LIHUE (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Kauai, election officials are preparing for a big experiment: All mail-in voting.
Last year, Governor David Ige signed a law that allows Kauai County to distribute mail-in ballots to all registered voters for the 2020 primary and general elections.
Supporters are hopeful this approach will improve voter turn out, while saving time and money.
"2020 will be a huge challenge for us for obvious reasons, but it's been something that we have advocated for for such a long time," said Lyndon Yoshioka, Kauai's Elections Administrator.
Yoshioka says the county has been pushing for vote-by-mail for at least a decade because of its growing popularity.
Last year, about 48-percent of Kauai voters mailed in their ballots during the primary election, while about 44-percent skipped the election day polls in the general.
To prepare for 2020, Yoshioka says they've been visiting other states that are already using vote-by-mail to take notes of best practices and challenges.
He says they'll also be purchasing some new equipment.
"A envelope scanner/sorter to help expedite the processing of returned ballots, as well as to capture signatures. We also need to get security cages to secure those ballots prior to processing," Yoshioka said.
While the elections will be conducted by mail, Yoshioka says there will also be one voting center where people can still walk in and fill out their ballots.
He says the center will open 10 days before the election, and stay open until the polls close on election day.
Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now's political analyst, says while voter fraud is not a common problem in Hawaii, he says it's still a concern with mail-in voting.
"You don't know what happens to that ballot when it reaches someones home. It's harder to guarantee that no one is pressuring someone to vote a certain way because they're not doing it in a polling place," Moore said.
Moore doesn't believe the switch will make a dramatic difference in voter turnout, but he says it will be interesting to see if it will change the way candidates campaign.
“There won’t be a single election day. People will be voting for a number of days when they have access to their mail-in ballots. Most campaigns are set up to build to this climax and you have to change that a bit,” Moore said.
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