Voters encounter long lines, problems on Election Day

Manoa Elementary

The polls technically closed at 6 p.m., however every person in line at that time will be allowed to vote.

As of 7:45 p.m., all polling sites were officially closed. We are awaiting the first printout.

Prior to that, 29 polling sites remained open on Oahu, including Lunalilo Elementary, Waipahu High School, and Blanche Pope Elementary. Election officials were unable to reach them and had to physically head out to those sites.

It will include 200,000 ballots, or 94 percent of all estimated early voting — 100 percent walk-in ballots and about 92 percent mail-in ballots.

Nine-thousand more mail-in ballots for Oahu arrived in the mail early Tuesday, and another load is expected from the post office, plus whatever got dropped off at polls.

As for those who actually voted Tuesday, several reached out to KHON2 through our Report It feature after encountering problems at the polls.

At Kapunahala Elementary School in Kaneohe and Kawananakoa Middle School, poll workers couldn’t locate the machines needed for voting. We’re told they had been moved to a different location by janitorial staff, but were eventually found.

Machines at Kaiser High School had also been moved but were found in time.

Sixteen other sites experienced jams and were either repaired or replaced.

Voters reported ballot machines were down at Jefferson Elementary, Hahaione Elementary and Waipahu High School.

Ryan Kasten got to Jefferson Elementary before the polls opened, and as he waited to submit his ballot, noticed the machine was malfunctioning.

“A man came out and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, our machine is broken. It’s not working. We don’t know how to fix it. The paper has jammed inside the machine,'” he told KHON2. “Because people were starting to get a little irritated, he said, ‘Just hand your ballots to me and I’ll keep them and when the machine is working again, I’ll just feed them back in.’ And a lot of people felt comfortable with that and gave him their ballots without ripping off the bottom, which you’re supposed to do, and he just kind of collected them in his hands. It just seemed a little odd to me.”

According to the state Office of Elections, procedure was not followed at Waianae High School, University Laboratory School, and Makaha in which the chairs started collecting ballots for later scanning from voters waiting in line who wanted to leave. They should have only been collecting them directly into the secure boxes. The procedure was corrected.

At McKinley High School, issues included paper jams, missing power cords, and more.

“We had our machine issues,” said chief election officer Scott Nago. “We have procedures in place when those go down and we dispatch troubleshooters to have them swapped and replaced.”

“I saw a bunch of poll workers who were just waiting outside and they told me that the person who needed to let them in through the locked doors hadn’t arrived yet,” said voter Mikey Inouye at McKinley High School. “The poll workers were half an hour behind and scrambling to get everything set up for everyone.”

“We got to know everybody around us, because it was a long line and it was a long wait,” said voter Mark Caldeira at Kainalu Elementary in Kailua. “Now the lines are moving really quickly. They had a problem with the machine feed and they fixed that so now it’s coming along.”

Even sites without technical issues dealt with long lines.

Kamiloiki Elementary School in Hawaii Kai saw lines all day, partially because of high turnout, but also because there was only one electronic ballot station and one e-scan for the entire precinct.

When asked how long voters had to wait, precinct chair Cecile Smith said, “I head 20-40 minutes it’s been, a long time. At one point, our machine broke down. That means they were not able to scan their ballots, so they had a basket and that went faster because they didn’t take the time to scan the ballots.”

Voters say they understand these issues aren’t always expected, however they’d like to see more functioning ballot boxes or more workers to keep polling places running smoothly.

The state Office of Elections says it will regroup in the days after the election to go over the issues that came up and how future elections can be improved.

Another reason for the long lines could be because of the length of the ballot itself. There were two pages to fill out this year due to Honolulu’s 20 charter amendment questions.

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