Absentee ballot fraud investigation underway on Kauai

The Elections Division of the Office of the County Clerk and the Kauai Police Department are investigating a possible case of voter fraud on Kauai.

Officials had received an absentee ballot by mail, but the affirmation statement on the back of the return envelope wasn’t signed. When the voter was contacted for a signature, he informed officials that he had never received the ballot in the first place.

“This recent event is of great concern to our office. We wish to note that the procedures we have in place to process absentee mail ballots were able to alert both the voter and our office of the situation,” said County Clerk Ricky Watanabe. “Fortunately, this appears to be an isolated case but we ask that anyone with information on this incident to please contact the Kauai Police Department.”

Officials say absentee mail voting procedures are very stringent and that the signature on the affirmation statement is verified against the corresponding voter’s signature contained on an official document on file in the Elections Division.

The ballot will only be counted if the signatures on the return ballot envelope and document match.

If the voter’s signature is missing from the Affirmation Statement or does not match the corresponding voter’s signature, the voter will be contacted to either inform the voter of the need to sign or to determine why the signatures do not match.

If a voter does not sign the Affirmation Statement or does not respond to follow-up attempts before the close of polls at 6 p.m. on Election Day, the ballot will not be counted.

“Voter fraud is a very serious offense that is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine, and we understand the public’s concerns centered on the on-going investigation,” said Watanabe.

Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 19-3.5, defines voter fraud as:

  1. Any person who knowingly registers another person to vote when that person is not entitled to register to vote;
  2. Any person who knowingly votes when the person is not entitled to vote;
  3. Any person who knowingly takes an oath in this title prescribed or authorized by law and wilfully makes any false statement of fact while under oath therein; or
  4. Any person who wilfully makes a false answer to any question asked of the person while under oath in this title prescribed or authorized by law.

Absentee mail ballot applications are processed the day they are received and the ballot is mailed the very next day so it generally takes about seven days for a voter to receive a ballot once the application is placed in the mail.

Absentee mail ballot applicants who do not receive a ballot within seven days of mailing their application should call the Elections Division.

For additional information or to check on the status of a ballot or absentee ballot application, please call the Office of the County Clerk, Elections Division at (808) 241-4800.

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