With days to spare, Oahu voters have broken the record for the number of votes cast in a general election.
The Honolulu Elections Division had tallied 313,320 ballots as of the end of day today, the office said in a Twitter post. City Clerk Glen Takahashi said his office mailed out 549,935 election packets earlier this month, which means 57% of the ballot envelopes already have been received.
Before this, the highest number of Oahu votes cast was 308,443 in 2008 — the year Hawaii-born Barack Obama was first elected president. The highest percentage of votes cast recorded was 93.3% in 1959, the first year of statehood, so that record likely will stand for now.
This is the first year Hawaii is having a vote-by-mail election process where all voters are sent a ballot. Both state and city elections officials credit the new method for at least part of the increased participation.
Voters seeking to return their ballots by U.S. mail were advised to do so by Tuesday to ensure they arrive in time to be counted. Otherwise, they have until election day to drop off their ballots physically at one of the two Voter Service Centers now in place at Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale or at any of 10 official drop box locations.
Go to www.honolulu.gov/elections for locations.
And while designated Election Day voter precincts at school cafeterias and community halls are a thing of the past, folks still have the option of casting their ballots the old-fashioned way at one of the two Voter Service Centers.
U.S. citizens who reside on Oahu but are not registered to vote can do so at one of the Voter Service Centers under a same-day registration law adopted in recent years. They have until 6 p.m. Tuesday, Election Day, to do so.
Of the 313,320 votes received, 306,039 were through the mail or drop-off boxes. The office reported 7,281 have voted in person at a Voter Service Center.
The high numbers continue a trend from August’s primary election, when 275,744 votes were counted — or 52.5%. In the 2016 primary — 169,531 votes were recorded, a record-low 35.1% turnout.