Wednesday, November 3, 2004


Cheridyn Okuno of Kaneohe does not seem interested in democracy in action as her father, Glenn Okuno, voted yesterday at Benjiman Parker Elementary School.

Turnout on Oahu
reaches 67% as ballot
mix-up delays final count

Some trouble surfaces with
absentee ballots as a record
127,000 mail in their votes

Encouraged by the chance to make a difference in the presidential race, Hawaii residents crowded polling places yesterday.

Election 2004


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On Oahu, turnout was about 67 percent. More than 127,000 people voted absentee statewide, a new record.

In the last presidential election in 2000, turnout was about 58 percent, with 371,033 ballots cast.

Late last night, a mix-up involving about 4,000 late mail-in absentee ballots held up the final count for Oahu. There was also a problem at a precinct in Mililani where an unknown amount of voters got the wrong ballot for the state House race.

The state Democratic Party was also investigating a possible snafu involving absentee ballots that did not get to Hawaii National Guard soldiers training for duty in Iraq in Texas, said spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz.

She said party lawyers were waiting for an explanation from the Hawaii National Guard that was expected sometime today.

Chief Elections Officer Dwayne Yoshina said his office made a special effort to sign up soldiers for absentee ballots. He said the ballots for the soldiers were among the first mailed out by county clerks.

The ballots were sent to the National Guard headquarters at Diamond Head, and the Guard was supposed to forward them to the soldiers.

At the time, Yoshina said, it was not known where the soldiers would be deployed.

It was unclear how many soldiers did not receive their absentee ballots.

"I don't think there's that many," Yoshina said.

He said he followed up on a complaint last week that a soldier had not received a ballot, and was told by the Guard that all the ballots had been forwarded.

A National Guard spokesman was not available for comment last night.

According to state law, completed absentee ballots must be received by 6 p.m. on Election Day. So, soldiers who did not fax or mail their ballots by the deadline cannot be allowed to vote, said election spokesman Rex Quidilla.

Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that yesterday's strong turnout was due, in part, to new voters or voters who do not regularly turn out.

Young people appeared to be a factor in the presidential race. Higher-than-average turnout in low-turnout areas might have also played a role in the mayor's race.

At Ala Wai Elementary School, first-time voters appeared to favor John Kerry.

"My union said to vote," said Jamal Kirk, a Kerry voter who had not voted in the last three elections.

Gina Abou-Sayf said she voted for the first time for Kerry because she thought she could make a difference.

"I could be that last vote," she said.

Precinct workers in working-class Kalihi, which saw lower voter turnout in the primary, said about 50 percent more people were turning out for the general.

Vao Salanoa, who said he is not a regular voter, cast his ballot yesterday for Mufi Hannemann and George Bush.

"Everybody said, 'Go vote,'" Salanoa said.

Edwin Butay, who is also not a regular voter, said he wanted to choose a new mayor and voted for Hannemann because he grew up in Kalihi. He also voted for Bush.

Democrats said they believe young new voters made a big difference in the presidential race and could be a factor in future elections.

Jadine Nielsen, state director for the Democratic National Committee, said the party believes it has identified new Democratic voters who will play a role in future elections.

Aaron Johanson, the state GOP's political director, said it is difficult to know what role new voters played in the election. But, he said, on the local level, candidates are able to get lists of new registered voters and can target information toward them.

State Elections Office


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