ROD THOMPSON / RTHOMPSON@STARBULLETIN.COM
North Kohala resident Lisa Andrews sat on an embankment yesterday with a bed sheet sign urging people to vote at the right place. Some venues had changed after the Oct. 15 quakes.
Earthquakes force adjustment in Kohala voting venue
KAPA'AU, Hawaii » North Kohala resident Lisa Andrews wanted people to know where to cast their votes yesterday, so she put out some bed sheets.
"Please vote," she wrote on 6-foot-by-6-foot sheets, adding, "Kohala High Cafeteria." The sheets were visible from some roads.
Possible confusion lay in the fact that the Oct. 15 earthquakes left the normal voting place, the Ikuo Hisaoka Gymnasium, littered with debris -- including tiles and lighting fixtures dangling from the ceilings.
Elections officials shifted the polling place about a mile to the west, to the high school.
But when Andrews checked the gym Monday, she saw no signs re-directing voters to the school.
So she put up her own signs -- not the bed sheets, but smaller ones written on the back of Mazie Hirono signs. As a Democratic Party official, Andrews had a supply of the signs endorsing the congressional candidate.
"I'm doing this because nobody else will do it," she said.
The rest of North Kohala took all of this in stride. Elections officials had, after all, mailed out notices of the new polling place.
Voter Bruno Villacorte figured out where the new polling place would be back in October, as soon as he heard the gym was damaged. "I know the options," he said. There aren't many.
The high school is about the only place big enough for voting, and it was the normal voting place until the gym was built about two decades ago, he said.
Voter Eva Caravalho also figured it out. "We live here all our lives, so we know where the school is," she said.
Polling official Margaret Hoshida said "a couple" of people went to the gym before coming to the school, perhaps guided by Andrews' signs.
Villacorte said some voters from the neighboring Halaula precinct come to the wrong place every election year anyway.
The aftereffects of the quakes are continuing. "There's people whose life is still upside down," Andrews said.
But the quakes didn't stop people from voting yesterday. In the primary, before the quakes, only 439 people in the precinct voted, about 24 percent of those registered. Yesterday, by mid-afternoon, the count was approaching 600, Hoshida and Andrews said.