HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s 2020 primary was the first all mail-in election for the state. That brought on questions — and confusion along the way.
One concern was voters meeting the strict 7 p.m. deadline to get their ballots into the voter service centers.
As seconds ticked away and the hard 7 p.m. deadline arrived, late voters were seen running to the boxes, only to be turned away.
But their ballots were still collected, and a clerk put them in a clear bag. According to Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago, their votes won’t be counted and included in the results. But they aren’t going to simply be discarded.
“The clerk took those ballots, they were after the 7 p.m. time so they won’t be counted, but they were held if there was a dispute and they were ordered to count them,” Nago said.
Any legal challenges or disputes could result in the counting of the late ballots. Nago said election staff were certain the ballots in the clear bag were received after the deadline.
Nago reiterated that the law clearly states ballots must be received by 7 p.m., no exceptions.
For weeks, election officials have preached the message of mailing your ballots at least five days ahead of the deadline. A 7 p.m. postmark on primary day would not even suffice, and the ballot would not be counted.
Most voters — over 368,000 — heeded advice and got their ballots in on time.
In traditional elections with polling precincts, anyone waiting in line when the polls closed would’ve still been allowed to vote, even if it was after the deadline.
Nago says there were still voters inside the Molokai voter service center, which was the last one to close in the state.
It’s not yet known how many late ballots total were received.