Election Day voters encounter hours-long waits to cast ballots
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii voters who opted to cast their ballots in person on Election Day encountered long lines and hours-long waits at service centers in a situation that left many frustrated.
At 7 p.m., when the polls closed, scores of people were still in line.
They were given the opportunity to cast their ballots, which delayed the first release of results.
While the vast majority of Hawaii voters cast ballots by mail, more than 5,500 voters selected the in-person option — either before Election Day or on it.
And some reported waiting up to two hours to cast a ballot.
“There’s only two places on the island to vote in person on Election Day, which is crazy,” said former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who added that she voted in person because she didn’t get a ballot in the mail.
“I hope election officials are paying attention because this is not a very welcoming environment.”
On Maui, voters at the island’s only voter service center were waiting about an hour to cast their ballots.
And on Kauai, the line to the voter service center started at the sidewalk.
Despite the waits, voters and officials said there were no other major problems for in-person voters.
Voters started lining up at service centers as early as 4 a.m.
One voter who placed his ballot in an official drop box at Kapolei Hale said he felt it was his duty to make sure his voice was heard. “I vote every election. It’s the way I was raised,” he said. “It’s our right and our duty.”
Others lined up to cast their vote in person.
“I’ve always voted in person,” said Kam Gilman. “I trust myself coming in, marking the box and leaving it here, putting it in a machine versus a drop box.”
SPECIAL SECTION: Election 2022
Despite the long lines, overall voter turnout this year in Hawaii appears to be sluggish ― and could be at or below 2018 levels, onlookers said.
”For midterm elections like this, our general election turnout tends to be somewhere between about 12 and 16 percentage points higher than in the primary,” said HNN political analyst Colin Moore.
“So it’s going to be a little bit higher but because this isn’t a presidential year, you don’t get as much of a boost going into that general election.”
Moore said he expects to see voter turnout of somewhere around 50% to 53%, which would be more or less the same turnout the state saw in 2018 — the most recent midterm election.
During the 2022 primaries in August, more than 330,000 people across the state chose to mail their ballots in while just over 9,000 voters chose to cast their ballot in person.
”I think people have confidence in the mail-in voting system,” Moore said.
“I’ve heard criticism from some sectors. There are clearly some people who are worried about this, but there really is no cause for concern. This is an incredibly safe system and most people clearly believe it is.”
Nationwide, more than 41 million people voted early in Tuesday’s races, which will decide control of Congress and key governorships across the country
This is the first national election since the fallout from the 2020 election.
In Hawaii, it’s important to note that state and county elections officials tell Hawaii News Now there have been no reports of voter fraud or any complications with the state’s mail-in voting system.
For a full list of ballot drop boxes and voter service centers across the state, click here.
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