Hawaii elections officials reported problems with ballot machines at some sites on Oahu after the state’s 232 polling places opened for general election voters Tuesday morning.
Troubleshooters were sent to polling places at Christ United Methodist Church on Keeaumoku Street and Wilson Elementary School on Kilauea Avenue in Kaimuki because of minor problems with the paper ballot counting machine when they opened at 7 a.m., elections spokesman Rex Quidilla said.
Similar problems were reported mid-morning with ballot machines at Koko Head Elementary.
Voters were not able to feed their ballots into counting machines, but were told to put their ballots in the pocket beside machine to be scanned when the machine could not be fixed.
Quidilla said he hadn’t been informed of the problem at Hawaii Kai, but said there are people at elections headquarters trained to correct such problems.
A 10 a.m. survey of selected statewide precincts sampling the number people who had voted by mail and those who had cast ballots Tuesday morning was about equal to the same time mid-morning on primary election day in August, Quidilla said.
Early and absentee voter turnout was expected to be low, with just 14,558 voters casting early ballots on Oahu, down from about 22,000 in 2010.
In 2010 during the last gubernatorial election voter turnout was 55.8 percent.
Two years later during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign 705,668 people were registered to vote in Hawaii. Turnout then was 61.9 percent.
Obama, trying to help Hawaii hold on to a Democratic seat in Congress, sent out a recorded message the day before the election that asks voters to support state Rep. Mark Takai in a close U.S. House race. Takai’s GOP opponent is Charles Djou in the 1st Congressional District race.
State Sen. David Ige, Republican James "Duke" Aiona, Hawaii Independent Party candidate Mufi Hannemann and Libertarian candidate Jeff Davis are vying to replace incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie who lost in the August primary.
Also on the ballot are five amendments to the Hawaii Constitution. The are charter amendments for neighbor island voters to consider – one in Hawaii County, three on Maui, and three on Kauai. The most controversial charter proposal is on Maui where voters are being asked to consider a charter amendment prohibiting the cultivation or reproduction of genetically engineered organisms.
On Hawaii island where the community of Pahoa is threaten by a lava flow from Kilauea Volcano voters who normally vote at Pahoa Community Center and who live north of the lava flow have the option of voting at Hawaiian Paradise Park, Quidilla said.
There are 3,378 people registered to vote at Pahoa community center, Quidilla said.
At Manoa Elementary School, it was a family affair for Ben and Patricia Ancheta, who for the second time, brought their three sons — Benjamin, Adam and William — to accompany them behind the red-white and blue voting curtain.
"It’s really important to show them that everyone should exercise their right to vote," said the elder Ancheta. "We also want to show them it’s also a fun time."
Patricia Ancheta said "it’s a family tradition."
"It’s important for them to know what their duties are."
Ben Ancheta said the family discussed the candidates and the issues at the dinner table and then went to breakfast together and then voted.
One of the first person in a line of more than a dozen voters who showed up at Manoa about 30 minutes before voting was allowed was Yoshito Asato, 85.
The retired mechanic said he has been voting at Manoa for nearly 12 years.
"I walk for half an hour every morning," said Asato, "and I like getting it done early and forgetting about it."
Shirley Takaki, 77, has been voting at Manoa since she became a naturalized citizen in 1962.
"I never miss it," said Takaki.
The retired hospital worker said voting has become easier.
About 50 people were waiting on line at Kamiloiki Elementary School in Hawaii Kai when the poll opened just after 7 a.m. Voters were greeted by a poll worker who announced that the polling station was short-staffed and asked for volunteers to work inside. Despite the staffing problem, the line outside the door was reduced to just a few people by 7:30 a.m.
There are 142 polling places on Oahu, 41 in Hawaii County, 34 on Maui, 15 on Kauai and 706,890 registered voters, according to election officials.
Polls will remain open until 6 p.m. Results are expected to be announced within two hours.