Early voter numbers in Hawaii indicate good year for election turnout

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A look at early voter numbers in Hawaii indicates this may be a good year for voter turnout. But is it a sign of changes to come in the near future?

We talked to political analyst John Hart who says the number of early walk-in and mail-in voters is similar to what we saw in 2012 when Hawaii-born President Barack Obama was on the ballot and the turnout was immense.

Hart says the early voting results show that voter registration increased in the primaries, along with an increase in mail-in voting.

Here are the final numbers from each county:

Oahu:

  • Early walk-in: 23,959
  • Mail received: 103,176

Maui County:

  • Early walk-in: 5,126
  • Mail received: 19,285

Hawaii County:

  • Early walk-in: 10,297
  • Mail received: 26,174

Kauai County:

  • Early walk-in: 4,740
  • Mail received: 8,875

Hart says early voting has definitely helped the overall voter turnout because it gives people more options to cast their ballots. “You can vote early or you can vote by mail. It’s just not all about Tuesday when it’s tough to get off from work, or it’s raining, or there’s a line of people. I think the more options, the better.”

He added that the increase in mail-in ballots is a good sign.

“As you know, we are considering going to a mail-only system. Only one other state has it, but given our relatively low voter rates, I think we are a good state to try that.”

And adults are not the only ones voting these last several days: We Vote Hawaii has been encouraging students at hundreds of different schools to vote as well. Part of Kids Voting USA, the nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots organization partners with public, private, charter and home schools statewide whose mission is two-fold: to prepare youth for a lifetime of voting and to encourage adult voter participation.

Organization founder Lyla Berg says it’s important to honor what our keiki are thinking. “We need to give them a chance to see that they are citizens, and they are part of this whether or not they are really American, because some of them their parents are immigrants. Still, this is something that affects all of us.”

Students can still cast their vote until Tuesday, and as for adult registered voters, polls on General Election Day Tuesday will open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you’re still in line at 6 p.m., polling places cannot close until you get a chance to vote.

Absentee ballots may be dropped off at the Honolulu Hale Office of the City Clerk until 4:30 p.m. Monday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at any polling place not necessarily your poll place.

The Honolulu Hale Office of the City Clerk will be open on General Election Day Tuesday.

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