Elections Office weighs closing dozens of precincts


POSTED: Sunday, June 21, 2009

A proposed cost-saving move by the state Office of Elections could have a negative effect on the islands' already low voter turnout rate, a key House lawmaker says.

To save on the cost of voting machines, the Elections Office has proposed closing 66 of Oahu's 212 polling precincts next year, shifting voters at those locations to nearby sites.

The consolidation would come in an election year with high interest in races for governor, Congress and possibly Honolulu mayor.

House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro said the move could lead to confusion with voters unknowingly showing up at their traditional polling places.

“;I think, unfortunately, a lot of voters tend to be creatures of habit,”; said Oshiro (D, Aiea-Halawa). “;I just think it's rife with the opportunity for a lot of confusion and people getting frustrated and, worse yet, missing their opportunity to participate in an election.”;

The Office of Elections issued a draft report to the Legislature last week.

“;It's in response to the Legislature's direction to do a study of costs,”; Chief Election Officer Kevin Cronin said. “;This is what we've come up with at this point.”;

Closing the precincts would require fewer voting machines, the primary cost-driver of the elections, according to the report. It does not recommend closing any of the 137 neighbor island precincts, noting that those counties “;had already consolidated their polling places to the greatest extent reasonably possible.”;

It's not known yet how much the state could save by closing the 66 precincts, Cronin said. By law, the contract for the voting machines must go out to bid. That process is scheduled to start next month, with the contract to be awarded by the end of September.

Once the bids are examined, it may be possible to close fewer precincts, Cronin said.

Last year's election, including 800 voting machines, ballots and support services, cost $6.5 million, Cronin said.

A new contract is required because of legal challenges pending against a contract awarded last year.

The Elections Office had awarded a 10-year, $43 million contract to Texas-based Hart InterCivic. A competing firm, Nebraska-based ES&S, which had submitted a $19 million bid, protested the contract.

An administrative hearings officer ruled against the Elections Office last August, but said it was too late to rescind the contract. Hart conducted the elections for 2008, but the remainder of the contract was voided. The state has appealed.

Oshiro said the office should examine other means of cost savings, such as cheaper voting machines.

“;I understand that the office feels that they're under some financial constraints,”; he said. “;But I think that they're proposed remedy is extreme.”;



A look at Oahu polling precincts that would be closed next year under a cost-saving plan proposed by the state Office of Elections. Listed are the precincts that would be closed followed by the consolidated precinct where voters would be steered:

17-02 Koko Head District Park to 17-01 Kaiser High School

17-04 Koko Head District Park to 17-07 Kamiloiki Elementary School

17-06 Kamiloiki Community Park to 17-07 Kamiloiki Elementary School

18-06 Aina Haina Community Park to 18-05 Aina Haina Elementary School

19-06 Liholiho Elementary School to 19-04 Waialae Elementary School

20-02 Palolo Elementary School to 20-01 Anuenue Elementary School

20-03 Maunalani Playground to 20-04 Liliuokalani Elementary School

21-01 Sacred Hearts Academy to 21-06 Kaimuki High School

22-01 Hokulani Elementary School to 22-03 Kaimuki High School

22-02 Kuhio Elementary School to 22-03 Kaimuki High School

22-06 Lunalilo Elementary School to 22-07 Washington Middle School

23-01 Waikiki Baptist Church to 23-02 Waikiki Community Center

24-01 St. Pius X Church to 24-06 Manoa Elementary School

24-05 Manoa Valley District Park to 24-02 Noelani Elementary School

25-01 Roosevelt High School to 25-06 Lincoln Elementary School

25-07 Stevenson Middle School to 25-06 Lincoln Elementary School

26-02 Papakolea Playground to 26-03 Stevenson Middle School

26-04 Punchbowl Homes to 26-05 Royal Elementary School

27-01 International Baptist Church to 27-03 Maemae Elementary School

27-02 Puunui Playground to 27-03 Maemae Elementary School

27-04 Hoopono Rehab Center to 27-06 Lanakila Elementary School

27-05 Kauluwela Elementary School to 27-06 Lanakila Elementary School

27-08 Kapalama Elementary School to 27-06 Lanakila Elementary School

28-06 Kalanihuia to 28-04 Kaiulani Elementary School

29-02 Kalihi Waena Elementary School to 29-01 Fern Elementary School

29-04 Puuhale Elementary School to 29-03 Farrington High School

29-05 Kalakaua Middle School to 29-03 Farrington High School

30-01 Kalihi Elementary School to 30-03 Kapalama Elementary School

30-04 Kalihi Uka Community Park to 30-02 Kalihi Uka Elementary School

31-03 Aliamanu Elementary School to 31-02 Moanalua High School

31-04 Salt Lake District Park to 31-05 Salt Lake Elementary School

32-02 Kalihi Kai Elementary School to 32-03 Aliamanu Middle School

32-06 Makalapa Community Center to 32-04 Makalapa Elementary School

32-08 Alvah A. Scott Elementary School to 32-07 Aiea Elementary School

33-01 Red Hill Elementary School to 33-02 Halawa District Park

33-03 Webling Elementary School to 33-02 Halawa District Park

33-06 Waimalu Elementary School to 33-05 Pearlridge Elementary School

34-02 Waiau Elementary School to 34-01 Waiau District Park

34-03 Waimalu Elementary School to 34-01 Waiau District Park

34-05 Manana Community Park to 34-04 Highlands Intermediate School

35-03 Waipahu Civic Center to 35-02 Waipahu High School

35-05 Waipahu Field to 35-06 August Ahrens Elementary School

36-01 Momilani Elementary School to 36-02 Pearl City Highlands Elementary School

36-03 Pearl City Elementary School to 36-05 Manana Elementary School

36-07 Palisades Baptist Church to 36-06 Palisades Elementary School

38-05 Kipapa Elementary School to 38-04 Mililani High School

39-02 Wahiawa Elementary School to 39-03 Leilehua High School

39-06 Kaala Elementary School to 39-04 Wahiawa Middle School

40-06 Makakilo Community Park to 40-05 Mauka Lani Elementary School

41-02 Waikele Community Park to 41-01 Waikele Elementary School

41-06 Hoaeae Community Park to 41-05 Kaleiopuu Elementary School

42-03 Kahi Mohala to 42-04 Ewa Elementary School

44-02 Nanakuli Elementary School to 44-03 Nanaikapono Elementary School

45-01 Waianae Elementary School to 45-02 Waianae Intermediate School

45-03 Kamaile Elementary School to 45-04 Makaha Elementary School

47-03 KEY Project to 47-02 Kahaluu Elementary School

47-05 Windward Community College to 47-06 Ahuimanu Elementary School

48-05 Windward Community College to 48-01 Heeia Elementary School

49-02 Kaelepulu Elementary School to 49-01 Enchanted Lake Elementary School

49-04 Kailua High School to 49-03 Maunawili Elementary School

49-05 Puohala Elementary School to 49-06 Parker United Methodist

50-01 St. Anthony Church to 50-05 Kainalu Elementary School

50-02 Kailua Field to 50-04 Kailua Elementary School

50-07 Aikahi Elementary School to 50-06 Kalaheo High School

51-05 Keolu Elementary School to 51-06 St. John Vianney

Source: State Office of Elections