Neighbor island polls draw thousands
Neighbor islanders jammed Democratic precinct polling places last night to vote in the presidential preference poll, with reports of hundreds of voters each in Kapaa, Kauai, and Kihei, Maui, and a traffic backup in Pahoa, Hawaii.
The caucus at the Kapaa Neighborhood Center on Kauai was so busy that voters caused a half-mile-long traffic jam.
Nearly 1,000 people stood in line for about an hour to vote in one of the three districts at the center. People brought their dogs and their children, caught up with neighbors and, in general, tried to figure out exactly which line to stand in.
"This is the best party in town," said Judy Louie, a Kilauea resident voting in her first caucus.
While Louie said she voted for Barack Obama, her friend, Toni Childs, was a Clinton supporter. The two said that the important thing was voting to make a difference.
"We finally have hope for change," Childs added.
In one district covered at the center, more than 300 people voted last night. Normally, only about a dozen people show up, said Betsy Matsumura, district captain.
Democratic voters turned out in record numbers on Maui in the predominantly blue-collar precincts of Kahului-Wailuku and the fast-growing residential and resort areas of south Maui.
Craig Nakamura, a former precinct president in the Wailuku-Kahului area, said there were about 50 people who attended the caucus in 2004.
By 5:45 p.m. yesterday, there were at least 200 people.
In south Maui, where organizers anticipated 600 voters, more than 800 people stood inside and outside of Kihei Elementary School at 7 p.m. and people were still coming.
A random poll of some voters who arrived early found Hillary Clinton led slightly in Kahului-Wailuku area, but Obama was in front in south Maui.
Rebecca Vakauta said she was voting for Obama because he's not a part of the "old-boy network."
"I never felt so strong about a candidate," said Vakauta, who participated in a Democratic Party presidential caucus for the first time.
Wallace Seita, voting at Baldwin High School in Wailuku, said he was supporting Clinton because she has more experience in politics -- something he found lacking in Obama.
At the ILWU Hall in Hilo, several caucus-goers expressed disappointment with the style of Clinton's campaign.
"I'm not so happy with the way Clinton runs her campaign," said Daniel Young. "If she ran a cleaner campaign, I think I would vote for her."
Obama supporter Elisha Goodman said, "Her message is more negative."
Retiree West Hatada voted for Obama. "I look at the old, old political ways and I'm willing to gamble on a change," he said.
A woman who gave her name only as Helen said she voted for Clinton, but it was a last-minute decision. "I want the race to be more interesting still," she said.
Democratic Party official Jeani Withington stationed herself at the Pahoa Community Center south of Hilo, expected to be one of the busiest sites. One person told her: "I've never seen such a traffic jam in Pahoa. You would have thought you were in Honolulu."