Few voters show up at the polls
Voter turnout for primary hits new low
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Hawaii's voter turnout was the lowest percentage for a primary election since statehood, election officials said last night.
With nearly all the votes counted, only about 34.6 percent, or 231,091 of the 667,647 registered voters, went to the polls.
Rex Quidilla, elections spokesman, confirmed that the percentage is a record low.
"It wasn't a heavy day (for voting)," he said.
Primary election turnout since statehood in 1959 has ranged from 84 percent to 40 percent.
Aside from the turnout, state elections chief Kevin Cronin said the process went "very well."
Because of precinct volunteer staffing problems, four polling places on Oahu opened an average of about an hour later than the 7 a.m. start, Cronin said.
There were other minor problems, he said, including about 10 electronic machines breaking down, requiring fixes.
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Despite the good weather that historically helps voter turnout, Hawaii residents stayed away from the polls yesterday in record numbers.
With nearly all the votes counted, only 231,091 of Hawaii's 667,647 registered voters cast ballots in the primary election.
"It wasn't a heavy day (for voting), said elections spokes-man Rex Quidilla, who confirmed that the percentage of turnout was a record low.
The turnout for primary elections ranged from a high of 84 percent in 1959 to a low of 40 percent in 2004, according to state figures. Last night's preliminary total: 34.6 percent. Kirk Caldwell, Democratic leader of the state House, said reasons for the low turnout might include the worsening economy as well as many uncontested legislative races in the primary.
Hawaii elections chief Kevin Cronin, handling his first election, said that aside from the turnout, the election process went "very well."
He said four polling places opened an average of an hour late, at Pauoa, Lincoln, Koko Head and Kuhio elementary schools. He said the Pauoa polling site opened the latest - 90 minutes late - because the precinct chairperson called in sick.
Cronin said the rest of the more than 330 polling sites all opened on time or within minutes. He said the four are just a fraction of the polling sites, and he praised the 3,600 volunteers. He said there were no major problems with the 800 voting machines, including 400 electronic machines. Fewer than a dozen electronic machines had glitches, but they were quickly fixed by troubleshooters, he said.
Although tens of thousands of registered voters stayed away, others went to the polls early.
Eric Tan didn't run into any problems when he voted at Koko Head Elementary School. He expected a long line when he detoured from his morning walk to vote at 7 a.m., but he was the first to arrive. "At other times it was always a madhouse. It was a pleasant surprise, so refreshing."
Pete Torres, 46, of Hawaii Kai said he thought the mayor's campaign was "just too muddy." He said the candidates were so fixed on the rail debate that they didn't say much about other issues. Conflicting information on the rail issues left him questioning whether it was worth it, he said. It would create jobs, said Torres, a member of the Carpenter's Union, which supports the rail project. "But it is never going to do away with traffic."
Star-Bulletin reporter Helen Altonn contributed to this report.