A cost-cutting effort also leaves 2,900 folks with no polling place
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 1, 2012
Hawaii residents assuming they'll be voting Aug. 11 at the same place as two years ago might think again.
About 1 out of 3 registered voters in Hawaii has a new polling place because of new district boundaries drawn up by the reapportionment process, according to the state Office of Elections.
Registered voters by now should have received by mail a yellow voter registration card giving them the address of their voting site, the elections office said. Voters who signed up for permanent absentee status were given their voting site, but instead received their ballot by mail.
About 2,900 registered voters on Oahu and Hawaii Island in small "pocket precincts" have no polling place and must vote by mail or at early walk-in sites, as a result of a new state law intended to reduce operating costs of the state Office of Elections.
Those voters should have received their absentee ballots by mail, the elections office said.
Elections spokesman Rex Quidilla said that so far he has received no complaints from the 2,900 voters who don't have a polling place on election day.
Quidilla said he expects many of the voters to cast their ballots before primary election day on Aug. 11.
In the 2010 Hawaii primary, 44 percent of registered voters cast their ballots early, either by mail or by voting at one of the walk-in early voting sites, which open about two weeks before the election and are closed two days before election day.
About 1,700 people cast their ballots as absentee walk-in voters Monday with no problems, Quidilla said.
"We're prepared. We're moving forward," he said.
The 2,900 voters assigned to no polling sites live in places where there are fewer than 500 registered voters. They are in 14 precincts on Oahu and three on Hawaii island.
The average pocket precinct has about 172 voters, with the largest pocket precinct totaling 415 voters. Two precincts on Oahu had no registered voters, and one on Hawaii island had only one registered voter, Quidilla said.
"Sometimes it's not feasible to find a suitable location to establish a polling place," he said.
Quidilla said he couldn't say what the savings was by reducing the number of polling sites, but the reduction allows the state Office of Elections to focus its resources.
He said the savings eliminates the cost of voting machines and hiring election poll workers.
He said voters can't just vote at the nearest precinct, because each precinct is assigned a single ballot type.
People unsure of where to vote should call the state Office of Elections at 453-8683, or their respective county clerk's office, including Honolulu, 768-3800; Maui County, 270-7749; Hawaii island, 961-8277; and Kauai, 241-4800.
The Office of Elections and county clerks have a website where voters can enter their address and find their polling place instructions at Hawaii.gov/elections.