Hawaii County voters get erroneous text notification about their ballots

A text told them the elections office got their completed ballot — even though many hadn't even received their ballots in the mail yet.
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 8:48 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 22, 2022 at 8:27 AM HST
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HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mail ballots started going out this week to more than 111,000 registered voters in Hawaii County.

On Thursday, about 6% of those voters who signed up for alerts on their ballot status got a surprise on their phones and inboxes.

“That was 2,379 of our voters that signed up for notifications when things occur,” said Hawaii County Clerk Jon Henricks.

All those voters first got a text early in the week, telling them their ballots were in the mail.

But then on Thursday, those voters got a text, telling them that the elections office had received their completed ballot.

“Yesterday at 3:50 p.m., (I) got a message from them saying, ‘We received your ballot, thank you for voting!’ And I’m like, what?” said a Hilo voter. who didn’t want to be identified.

She hadn’t even received her ballot yet, and emailed the Elections Division to let them know.

“There was a human error cause in our office, a data upload of information that had been obsolete that then created the message coming forward,” said Henricks.

About an hour after the erroneous message, the county Elections Division sent out a correction via text and email.

“This is a wake-up call for us. Not that we were sleeping in any way, shape or form, but just doubling down on making sure that we are doing things the right way,” said Henricks.

“It did not impact anybody’s ballot. It did not impact their voter registration status and it has zero impact on their ability to vote in the 2022 general election. None whatsoever.”

Meanwhile, Ocean View resident Chris Casebolt said he got his ballot in the mail Friday morning — along with two others.

“One for my dad, one for my brother, and unfortunately they’ve never voted in their life,” Casebolt said.

He said neither his brother or his dad had ever registered to vote.

“They’ve actually been put into the fireplace,” said Casebolt, who said he didn’t call the elections office about the error. “No extra voting going on.”

Henricks said it’s rare that someone who isn’t registered to vote would get a ballot.

He’s hoping anomalies and mistakes don’t erode the public’s trust in the election.

“The fact that something like this might help to kind of fuel those statements, that’s troublesome to me,” said Henricks.

“The people that I work with are so passionate about elections, and they’re so passionate about doing everything they can to make sure that the election is exactly what it is, meaning everybody that voted that had the right to vote was counted, and the tally is the tally. And nothing more, nothing less.”

Henricks said all Hawaii County voters should receive their ballot by Saturday.

If they don’t receive it, he said they should call the Hawaii County Clerk Elections Division at 808-961-8277.