More Hawaii voters are registered. Will they actually cast a ballot?

More Hawaii voters are registered. Will they actually cast a ballot?
Updated: Nov. 7, 2016 at 5:56 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Voter registration in Hawaii is at an all-time high, but that might not translate into higher turnout on Election Day, experts said.

Some 749,917 people had registered to vote by Oct. 10, the deadline for online and mail-in registration in Hawaii.

A new online registration option contributed to the roughly 6 percent increase from the 2012 election. Officials say 23,000 people registered to vote online.

But will those newly-registered voters actually turn out to the polls? Probably not, analysts said.

"Every time we make it considerably easier to register, many more register. This happened in 1996 with the motor voter law, and know that you can register online, particularly there have been links off Facebook, people can see that and register very easily," said Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now political analyst.

Moore believes that even with this year's record-setting registration, the actual turnout will be relatively low.

"Registering to vote is much easier than actually going to vote or submitting your ballot and that takes a lot more thought, a lot more time. So it's great that we have higher voter registration, but it hasn't necessarily led to higher turnout in the past," he said.

Hawaii has long struggled with lowest-in-the-nation turnout, and the move to an online registration system was designed to address that.

In the primary election this year, turnout hit a new low -- at just 35 percent. Officials said that nearly 252,000 of Hawaii's registered voters cast ballots.

One good sign heading into Election Day: Early voting is up

The state Office of Elections has received 157,605 mail ballots and 44,122 early walk-in ballots. That's up from previous years.

During the last presidential election, when Hawaii-born Barack Obama sought re-election, nearly 62 percent of registered voters in Hawaii cast ballots.

"Right now the absentee walk numbers are actually a little higher than they were in 2012," said Chief Election Officer Scott Nago. "But you've got to realize that our registration went up so the percentage might not necessarily correlate to a higher percentage."

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved