HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - This year’s general election in Hawaii will primarily be conducted by mail, but Oahu voters will have the option to vote in person up until Election Day at special voter service centers that will also help with registration and other issues.
On Tuesday, elections officials said over 209,000 ballots on Oahu alone have been received. At last check, over 230,000 were received statewide, making for a voter turnout rate of more than 26% right now.
Starting Tuesday, residents have been able to vote in person at Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale.
Officials report there were just shy of a thousand people that voted in person on Tuesday, so lines shouldn’t be too long, but officials urge going as early as possible if voting in person.
Elections officials say the voter service centers offer another option, but voters are urged to use the mail-in system or drop off their ballots at official ballot boxes scattered around the island.
“We hope everyone is acting ahead of time to get their ballot in. You don’t want to be pushing the deadline and even risk the possibility of your ballot not counting,” said Honolulu elections Administrator Rex Quidilla. “Come early, the boxes are open now."
Elections officials are hoping to avoid the mad dash seen during the August primary election. That election saw the highest turnout in nearly 25 years.
And turnout is expected to further increase in the general election.
“We do have, as I’m speaking to you now, more than 170,000 ballots stored at our facility, which is unprecedented,” Quidilla said.
“So a lot of people did react early and sent their voted ballots in to us. It’s hard to tell how the rest of the calendar will look like, but as always, election night for us is a long night.”
For those concerned mail-in voting leads to fraud, Quidilla said his office encountered no major issues during the primary as every ballot goes through a verification protocol.
“It’s a process that we’ve worked through and refined over the years,” Quidilla said.
“Vote by mail has been with our state for a long time. We had a high number of people voting by mail via absentee and so we have expertise in that area. It’s just now expanded for the entire voter registry.”
According to the elections office, 17% of all ballots cast in the primary came from drop boxes.
To accommodate increased turnout, county officials have added four boxes around the island for a total of 12 across Oahu.
Ballots must be received by Nov. 3.
If voters opt to mail in their envelopes, they are urged to do so by Oct. 27.