Manoa residents receive hundreds of duplicate absentee ballots

Published: Oct. 18, 2012 at 6:39 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 18, 2012 at 9:06 PM HST
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MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With less than three weeks to go until the election, the Honolulu City Clerk's office has flagged a problem. A processing error led to duplicate absentee ballots being mailed out to hundreds of registered voters in Manoa.

When Mona Chang-Vierra received two ballots packets in the mail, she assumed one was for her ... one, for her son, Anthony Vierra. Not so.

"I find it very troubling," Chang-Vierra said.

Her son is one of 817 registered voters in Manoa Valley's district 23, precinct 5 – with last names beginning with the letters "M" through "Z" - who received the duplicates.

"I am very concerned because some of the races could be very close," says Chang-Vierra. "And I would like to think that they would get it right, and particularly, after all the hullaballoo on the Big Island. That was very disconcerting."

The Honolulu City Clerk's office says it was a processing error caused by the ballot vendor. "When we print up the absentee envelopes, there's some go-stop that occurs when you print up those envelopes and rather than, as you're printing, restarting from where you left off, what happened was ... it was reprinted from the very beginning," explained Elections Administrator, Glen Takahashi.

So, the clerk's office will be mailing out new ballots. "We will be sending these voters and just these voters alone, a replacement ballot packet and asking them to utilize the replacement packet for casting their absentee ballots," says City Clerk, Bernice Mau.

Officials don't have a running tally of the cost yet, but to mail out additional ballots - to this neighborhood - is going to mean, among other things, extra staff time, postage, and envelopes.

For those 817 voters, if you have NOT returned your original ballot yet, destroy both of them. The replacement will be sent out next Monday, October 22nd. If you HAVE returned the original, officials ask you to re-vote with the replacement. They'll flag your original and that one won't be counted. If you send in the original and don't ever send the replacement, your original ballot will count. Honolulu Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi is one of the local candidates who could potentially be affected.

"We're always trying to get more people to vote and participate and the whole voting process. When things like this happen, it just kind of makes people lose faith in the whole process," Kobayashi said.

"I would hate to think that, in the old Chicago style, you can vote early and vote often," added Chang-Vierra.

Elections officials say they've worked with the vendor for eight years and are reviewing additional controls to make sure duplication doesn't happen again.

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