Neighbor islands gripe about Oahu’s vote drop box rule

Neighbor islands gripe about Oahu’s vote drop box rule
City ensures ballots are safe & counted with new drop boxes

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — As Hawaii makes its first all-mail election attempt for the upcoming August primary, some officials on neighboring islands have complained that Oahu voters get more time to leave their ballots in drop boxes.

The City and County of Honolulu have already opened their ballot drop boxes to the public while other island counties are using the Aug. 3 date cited in state law, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.

Hawaii, Maui and Kauai counties interpret the law to mean voters can start using ballot drop boxes five days before the Aug. 8 election.

Honolulu Elections Administrator Rex Quidilla said the language sets Aug. 3 as the final day the that the drop boxes can be opened, not the only day. Honolulu opened drop boxes July 21.

“We made the decision that the ballot drop boxes would be useful to Honolulu voters who had concerns over mailing them,” Quidilla said.

The boxes are legally known as “places of deposit” and are useful for residents who cannot vote by mail or have had mail ballots returned because of postal errors.

Hawaii Island, which is larger geographically than all the other islands combined, only has two voter service centers to serve residents.

Susan Irvine, a board member of the League of Women Voters-Hawaii County chapter, said state officials should precisely define when the drop boxes should be made available to voters.

“Everybody should be on the same page,” she said.

Allowing longer access to ballot drop points is comparable to allowing one island to let polling places open longer in a conventional election, Irvine said.

Nedielyn Bueno of the state elections office said counties have their own lawyers providing guidance and “we cannot speak for the counties as to how they have interpreted their responsibilities under these laws.”

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