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Voter turnout remains low in primary

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    Three-year-old Jackie Furuta

Despite a hotly contested Honolulu mayor’s race and primaries for the Senate and U.S. House, Hawaii appears likely to remain among the states with the lowest voter turnout following Saturday’s primary election.

Final election returns show about 42.3 percent, or 290,653 of the state’s 687,500 registered voters, cast ballots.

The turnout is still higher than in 2008, when voter turnout reached a record low of about 36.9 percent. But this year’s primary is slightly lower than 2010’s 42.8 percent turnout, when a contested Democratic primary for governor and a special election for Honolulu mayor bought 292,992 voters to the polls.

Turnout was highest in Honolulu and Hawaii counties, which both had mayoral contests. About 44.2 percent of registered voters cast ballots on Oahu, while 42.6 percent voted on Hawaii island.

Maui had the lowest turnout at 30.6 percent, followed by Kauai’s 39.2 percent.

The turnout figures also show absentee voting becoming more popular. Slightly less than half of all ballots — about 48.7 percent — were cast before Election Day.

In 2010, 44.4 percent of primary ballots were absentee, up from 2008 when 38.6 percent voted early.

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