The primary election will go on as scheduled Saturday, except for two polling places on the Big Island where Iselle caused enough damage to postpone voting for thousands of people.
“The elections office is going to go forward with the election as planned,” said State Attorney General David Louie.
That was the announcement earlier Friday, which was meant to be statewide. But later, civil defense officials saw aftermath in Puna on the Big Island that led election officials to postpone polling at Hawaii Paradise Community Center and Keoneopoko Elementary School Saturday.
They say impassable roads have left much of that community isolated.
About 8,000 voters are registered there, and anyone who did not vote early by mail or in person will be given an absentee ballot somehow after Saturday, and will be given until an undetermined time to vote — by state law no more than 21 days.
According to Louie, the postponement will not affect the reporting, the tabulation and the distribution of the results from the rest of the state. Results will be announced as planned Saturday night.
KHON2 asked how and why, when all polling places are supposed to be closed before any tally is made public, so as not to influence remaining votes.
“The law which was passed by our legislature deals with this and says no, you just go forward and you report because you’ll have those results,” Louie said. “It’s sort of like in Hawaii where the presidential election occurs, sometimes Hawaii is the last one and then our results are distributed and they may or may not matter. In a close race, they can matter. For local elections, these votes of these people in these communities can matter. So the elections chief is going to be assessing, watching this very closely and then as soon as we can, we’ll release further information.”
Meanwhile all other polling places must still open at 7 a.m. Saturday, while many election officials keep their fingers crossed that things like weather, road conditions even power reliability will remain favorable.
“Right now we’re getting reports from the Big Island of road closures and rolling blackouts,” said chief election officer Scott Nago. “They’re currently working to resolve that issue, however the voting system is designed to work on a battery backup.”
Asked if they’d be able to get every site open on time, Maui County Clerk Danny Mateo said, “It depends on weather conditions, but right now, it’s a go for tomorrow. We’re ready to run our elections.”
Election volunteers should count on getting to their assigned locations as planned, and Nago said they’re trying hard to spread the word that everything is business as usual for precinct workers.
Many precincts are at places that also serve as emergency shelters – for instance, the Hana polling place shares the school cafeteria with the assigned shelter location.
But most larger sites have shelters and voting in different buildings. Iselle shelter use wrapped up Friday afternoon, with it yet to be determined whether and when anyone would need to come back for the second storm Julio.
Asked if sharing a site impacts potential shelter use, Red Cross shelter volunteer Ray Moody said, “Not at all, not at all. They need to do their stuff. We’ll make sure nothing goes wrong for them.”
In one way, Iselle worked in election officials’ favor. With schools closed Friday, they got a head start setting up at sites that were not also shelters, Nago said.
More than 150,000 people have already voted, whether by mail-in or walk-in. Here are the numbers as of the end of the day Thursday:
- Honolulu County had 14,858 walk-in and 87,749 mailed-in ballots.
- Maui County had 2,473 walk-in and 12,808 mailed-in ballots.
- Hawaii County had 6,191 walk-in and 16,467 mailed-in ballots.
- Kauai County had 3,761 and 7,111 mailed-in ballots
Maui and the Big Island closed walk-in voting a half-day early Thursday, the last day to vote early in person.
Hawaii Revised Statutes §11-92.3
Consolidated precincts; natural disasters; postponement; absentee voting required; special elections. (a) In the event of a flood, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, high wind, or other natural disaster, occurring prior to an election, that makes a precinct inaccessible, the chief election officer or county clerk in the case of county elections may consolidate precincts within a representative district. If the extent of damage caused by any natural disaster is such that the ability of voters, in any precinct, district, or county, to exercise their right to vote is substantially impaired, the chief election officer or county clerk in the case of county elections may require the registered voters of the affected precinct to vote by absentee ballot pursuant to section 15-2.5 and may postpone the conducting of an election in the affected precinct for no more than twenty-one days; provided that any such postponement shall not affect the conduct of the election, tabulation, or distribution of results for those precincts, districts, or counties not designated for postponement. The chief election officer or county clerk in the case of county elections shall give notice of the consolidation, postponement, or requirement to vote by absentee ballot, in the affected county or precinct prior to the opening of the precinct polling place by whatever possible news or broadcast media are available. Precinct officials and workers affected by any consolidation shall not forfeit their pay.
(b) In the event the chief election officer or the county clerk in a county election determines that the number of candidates or issues on the ballot in a special, special primary, or special general election does not require the full number of established precincts, the precincts may be consolidated for the purposes of the special, special primary, or special general election into a small number of special, special primary, or special general election precincts.
A special, special primary, or special general election precinct shall be considered the same as an established precinct for all purposes, including precinct official requirements provided in section 11-71. Not later than 4:30 p.m. on the tenth day prior to the special, special primary, or special general election, the chief election officer or the county clerk shall give public notice, in the area in which the special, special primary, or special general election is to be held, of the special, special primary, or special general election precincts and their polling places. Notices of the consolidation also shall be posted on election day at the established precinct polling places, giving the location of the special, special primary, or special general election precinct polling place. [L 1983, c 34, §11; am L 1993, c 304, §5; am L 1996, c 215, §3; am L 1998, c 2, §5]