1998 general election
is under way
Regardless of errors that
may surface during the recount,
election results will
By Craig Gima
1998 General Election Results
The state Office of Elections today began recounting all 412,520 ballots cast in the 1998 general election.
The task will involve about 100 workers and observers, and is expected to take seven to 10 days and cost about $250,000. The cost will be paid for by Election Systems & Software, the company that provided the counters and computers for the election.
High-speed counters have been set up in Aloha Stadium's hospitality room, under the south end-zone stands. Ballots for Kauai and Maui were scheduled to be recounted today by five machines similar to the ones used to count absentee ballots during the primary and general elections.
The machines are different from the counters that misread about 300 ballots in seven precincts during the general election. The problems with the precinct counters led the state Senate to call for a review of the entire election.
Chief Election Officer Dwayne Yoshina said six races in which results were closer than 1 percent will be recounted by hand. The difference in the race between Gov. Ben Cayetano and Republican challenger Linda Lingle was 1.3 percent. Yoshina said he does not expect the review to show a significant change in that race.
The other factor that would trigger a manual audit or recount by hand would be if the difference between a race's election result and recount is 1 percent or greater.
Yoshina warned that the public should expect a slight variation in the results because the machines use different technologies to read the ballots.
The counters used in precincts on Election Day operate with a "visible light" technology, while the high-speed counters being used in the recount operate with "infrared" technology.
"It's when you run the precinct ballots through an infrared counter that you're comparing apples with oranges, and the variation is going to be greater," he said.
But Yoshina said the variation between the two results should be less than 1 percent and should not affect any outcomes.
Even if the outcome is different, the recount would not alter the general election because results already have been certified and there is no provision in state law to change them.
The largest race that will be recounted by hand is the county-wide irradiation initiative on the Big Island. The effort to ban a processing facility that uses radiation to kill fruit flies failed by 473 votes.
Recounting that race by hand will involve all 53,658 ballots cast on the Big Island.
An oversight committee composed of state auditor Marion Higa, R. Doug Lewis of the nonprofit Election Center and Penelope Bonsall of the Federal Election Commission was scheduled to meet today to discuss how and when they will release the recount results.
Lewis said the committee hasn't discussed whether results will be released daily or after the recount is concluded.
A report from the committee is not due to the Legislature until the end of the month.
"When we're finished we want the people of Hawaii to believe in the results that we find," Lewis said.
Election Systems & Software provided the counters and computers for the election under a $1.7 million contract.
The state is withholding a portion of that payment because of the problems with the precinct readers.
ES&S Vice President Tom Eschberger said the company will not try to collect the remainder of the payment.