Democratic candidates for the state Senate whose names were left off some absentee ballots in District 25 said they were concerned the error might hurt their chances for winning.
"It’s a very, very serious matter. I’ve never heard before that they’ve had some kind of misprinted ballot," said Chuck Prentiss, one of three Democratic candidates whose names were omitted from some of the ballots for District 25 (Kailua-Waimanalo-Hawaii Kai).
Prentiss said he was hoping to receive some votes from the Hawaii Kai area, where some misprinted ballots have been reported.
"People might get a replacement ballot and might toss it," thinking they’ve already voted, he said. "It has to be done very carefully."
Walk-in absentee voting sites will be open from tomorrow through Sept. 16. Voters must show a photo ID, such as a driver’s license. Most sites are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
State elections officials could not be reached yesterday. But Debi Hartmann, executive director of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said last night a state elections official informed her that a letter will go out to District 25 this morning and that further information will be available this morning.
"The original ballots that went out will be treated as spoiled ballots," Hartmann said. "New ballots will be provided, and it will be the new ballots that will be used for tallying."
She understood that if any originals have been mailed in already, they will be treated as spoiled ballots. It was unclear whether any correct ballots turned in will be treated in this manner.
Not all voters in the 25th Senate District received ballots with the omissions. Some voters from Waimanalo and Kailua reported their ballots were complete.
Hartmann said it may just be the Hawaii Kai precincts, 17 and 18, that had the mistakes. She said the Democratic Party did check the ballots, but only spot-checked them.
"It’s a big error," said Democratic candidate Pohai Ryan, who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Fred Hemmings. "There’s nothing that can be done about it. The mistake is made."
"I think the biggest loser is the voter," Ryan said. "The instructions to voters must be clear on what they’re supposed to do to make their vote count."
Ryan said she will also insist that elections officials meet with all the candidates in the same room at the same time to inform them what is going to happen to remedy the situation.
"This is so not good," she said. "And I thought to myself out of all the races, why did it have to be ours?"
Hartmann said the Democratic Party will inform everyone on its e-mail list of the mistake.
Democratic candidate Andrew Jamila Jr. could not be reached for comment.
Republican candidate Joe Pandolfe said a friend informed him that the Democrats were left off the ballot.
"I told him, it’s too bad they didn’t leave off my (Republican) opponent and the Democrats," he said jokingly. Then "everything would be just fine."
Republican candidate Virginia Enos said, "Voting is one of the most rights we have as U.S. citizens, and we look forward to this being resolved quickly."