Voters reminded to check ballot carefully
Primary Day will likely reflect low absentee vote
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Voter turnout will be low for tomorrow's primary election, if initial reports on absentee balloting are an indication.
About 13,000 Oahu voters cast ballots by the close of absentee voting yesterday, according to the City Clerk's office. That's down by about 4,000 from the 2006 primary.
In Honolulu, the mayoral contest is the highest-profile race, with challengers City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi and Panos Prevedouros hoping to force a runoff with incumbent Mayor Mufi Hannemann. To win outright tomorrow, one candidate has to get more than 50 percent of the votes cast. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters move on to the general election.
In the last two weeks of campaigning, Kobayashi raised the most money of the three candidates.
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When polls open at 7 a.m. tomorrow, voters will be faced with a slightly different ballot, and likely shorter-than-usual lines.
Absentee voting on Oahu (all numbers are estimates):
Walk-in voters: 13,000
Requests for mail ballots: 62,000
Walk-in voters: 17,000
Requests for mail ballots: 61,000
Walk-in voters: 17,000
Requests for mail ballots: 48,000
Source: City Clerk
Officials note that walk-in absentee voting for the primary election has been light and if that trend holds up for tomorrow's voting, the turnout could be lower than Honolulu's 43 percent turnout in 2006. Voter turnout for the entire state in 2006 was 42 percent.
"We are recommending that voters come to the polls in off-peak hours, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.," Glenn Takahashi, city elections administrator, said. "There is always a line when the polls open."
Takahashi and state officials point out that voters will first have to declare a political party on the ballot.
"Remember to pick a party; it is the left side of the front of the ballot," Takahashi said.
State elections official Scott Nagao also reminded voters to bring identification with a picture on it, such as a driver's license, to the polling place. There, voters will sign a poll book to record that they voted at that polling place.
A yellow voter registration notice is not an acceptable form of identification, Nagao added.
The primary election has both partisan races and nonpartisan elections. The partisan contests are on the front of the ballot, while the nonpartisan ones are on the back, so Takahashi noted that voters should remember to turn their ballot over to check all races.
Tomorrow night, the first results will be released by the state elections office as soon as the polls close.
Nagao said the official poll closing time is 6 p.m., but anyone in line at 6 is allowed to vote, so some polls will close later and no results can be released until the last polling place is closed.
Those first results will include all of the absentee walk-in ballots and a majority of the absentee mail-in votes. Two years ago in the primary, absentee votes accounted for more than 15 percent of the vote.
The next release of election information is scheduled to be around 9:30 p.m. That tally should include the remainder of the absentee ballots and about 40 percent of the precinct returns from both Oahu and the neighbor islands, according to Nagao.
The final returns, if all goes according to the state's plans, will be announced at about 11 p.m.