Early voting locations opened Friday as more state residents are opting for the convenience of voting absentee, rather than waiting until election day.
Residents can vote early in the county and state primaries, as well as the Honolulu mayoral race, at any of the early bird voting locations, which will be open through Sept. 16, two days before the primary.
On Oahu, polling places are at Honolulu Hale, Kapolei Hale and Windward Mall and are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, but will be closed tomorrow for Labor Day.
On Friday, the first day of the polls, about 1,000 people voted on Oahu.
Voters need to have a picture ID.
Bernice Mau, Honolulu city clerk, said that on Oahu there were about 76,000 requests for permanent and regular absentee ballots as of Friday.
That’s up from the 62,810 Oahu residents who requested absentee ballots before the 2008 primary. Of those, 51,415 residents returned their ballots and 13,027 voted at early-polling places for the primaries, she said.
In total, about 40 percent of voters voted by walk-in or absentee ballot on Oahu in 2008 and that percentage is on track to rise this year, Mau said.
"I think people see the convenience of the vote-by-mail," said Mau. She said residents may have appreciated the convenience of three recent mail-in elections, which led to the election of City Council members Ikaika Anderson and Ann Kobayashi and U.S. Rep. Charles Djou.
Meanwhile, registered voters in Hawaii dropped to 685,000 from 697,000 last week after officials updated the database, which included removing the names of the deceased and felons.
Mau said the number of registered voters will grow as people register for the general election in November, having already missed the primary deadline.
There are more registered voters this year than in the 2008 primary, when there were 667,647 registered voters, including 450,522 on Oahu. That year, 167,047 Oahu voters — about 37 percent — cast their ballots.
But some remain wary about early voting.
Pearl Johnson, president of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii, said that while absentee voting may increase participation, voters should be sure to gather all the facts about candidates and issues.
"I am so afraid that people will vote before people have all the information," she said, adding that some campaign information isn’t scheduled to be published in the newspaper until later this month.
To help distribute information, the League invites all candidates to post a campaign statement on its website, www.lwv-hawaii.com.
Johnson remains committed to waiting until election day to vote, although she may be part of a shrinking demographic.
"I like the feeling of going to my polling place on election day," she said.