Mass Voter Turnout Delays Hawai‘i Election Results
Hawai‘i will have to wait longer than usual for resolution on Election Day 2020.
The state will name new mayors in Hawai‘i and Honolulu Counties, and a host of other state and county offices across all islands will also be decided. Those results were expected Tuesday evening. However, long lines at polling places on O‘ahu and hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots that require counting may push the official announcements of final results into Wednesday.
Lauren Day, of KHON News, reported via Twitter a little before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday that the state’s first printout won’t be available until around 8:30 p.m. It was expected at 7 p.m., with the second printout projected for around 10 p.m.
The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting changes to the election processes of the entire country — mail-in balloting and slower vote tallying procedures, among several others — will undoubtedly cause a delay to the declaration of a victor in the United States presidential election and could impact the timing of results for other national races. Much the same is true for local races in Hawai‘i, although the delays shouldn’t be as protracted, more likely lasting hours instead of days.
The mail-in component of the General Election has appeared the primary factor in slowing down the reporting of official results in national races. Adding to Hawai‘i’s timing issues more prominently appears to be the factor of voter turnout at polling places, where long lines persisted beyond 7 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Polling centers technically close across Hawai‘i at that time, but anyone in line by the stroke of 7 o’clock is allowed to cast a vote. Voters in Honolulu County told reporters that the process was taking around 90 minutes start-to-finish. If that pattern holds, the final voters should be casting their ballots around 8:30 p.m., when the first printout is now projected for release.
Whether the delays to the second printout will be uniform — meaning it would also show up 90 minutes late at 11:30 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. — remains to be seen.
Polling places were not as packed on the Big Island as on O‘ahu, though there was steady action at both in-person voting centers and ballot dropboxes Tuesday. Around 1:30 p.m., more than three dozen voters stood in two separate lines around Building G of the West Hawai‘i Civic Center in Kailua-Kona waiting to submit their votes.
Some said they had questions and concerns about whether their ballots would be counted via a mail-in process, while others said they simply missed the deadline for mail-in voting or had failed to register in time to receive a ballot by way of the US Postal Service.
According to the State of Hawai‘i Office of Elections, more than 80,000 Big Island voters had sent their ballots in through the mail as of Monday afternoon. Reports Monday evening had more than 500,000 Hawai‘i voters casting their ballots early through the mail-in process, with that tally expected to grow.
Stay tuned to Big Island Now for up-to-date tallies on local and state elections throughout Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning. Or tune-in to Pacific Media Group radio stations KAPA, KBIG, and The BEAT for your election information.