Monday, February 22, 1999

Doubts voiced
on vote results

More than half of voters polled
say they would rather go back to
the old punch-card system

Poll: Lawsuit won't lower gas prices

By Craig Gima


Art First-time voter Vanessa Dubie questions why she bothered to vote in last November's election.

"I feel like I voted for nothing," she said.

About half of those questioned in a Honolulu Star-Bulletin/Hawaii News 8 poll have questions or doubts about whether their votes were counted and whether the results are accurate.

Slightly more than half the people felt their individual vote was counted accurately. But when asked if they thought the overall election results were correct, 57 percent didn't think so or had doubts.

State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae) said: "The confidence level is very troubling."

Hanabusa has pushed for a recount and an investigation after it was revealed that machines malfunctioned in seven out of 334 precincts during the general election. She noted that if the state were concerned about customer service, the poll shows there's a problem. "If we were a retail store and half of the merchandise was returned, you'd go broke."

Dubie, like 45 percent of those polled, supports the idea of a recount of the election. "I was thinking that maybe it would be a waste of time. But now if there's any question, they should. All the things that are coming out are just too distressing to ignore."

But longtime voter Sam Okinaga has more faith in the system.

"It should be fairly accurate," he said. "There were maybe a few glitches."

Okinaga thinks the state should continue with the new voting system. "I voted in the days where you just mark X on the ballot. It's come a long way."

But 54 percent of the registered voters in the poll liked the old punch card system better than the new technology.

"The punch card was fine with me," said Dean Robb. "It's a little more primitive, but there's less concern for mistakes." The telephone poll was conducted Feb. 11-13, just after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass a resolution asking for a full recount or review of the 1998 general election. Since then, the resolution has passed both the House and Senate, and chief election officer Dwayne Yoshina has begun preparations for the recount to begin next month.

Yoshina said the poll shows why a recount should take place and he said he hopes the recount will show that the election results were accurate.

"The evidence to date shows that our results are OK," he said. "The Legislature in its wisdom has said, 'Hey go do your job.' So that's what we're going to do."

Audits of the precincts where machines malfunctioned showed the number of votes that were changed did not affect the outcome of any races. Election Systems & Software, the company that provided the election system to the state, said the malfunctions affected less than 300 votes.

As for those who would like to see the state return to the punch-card system, Yoshina said that's still an option, but it's an option that has its own problems.

"It's labor intensive. It's cumbersome. We can't get parts and services," he said.

He hopes people will eventually realize the state should move to new technologies.

"When you bring in a new system, people need to get used to it," Yoshina said. "We gotta do something, the alternative to this is to keep increasing ballot costs, keep increasing the cost of running the elections."

"I think we should go into the 21st century utilizing the technology that is there," he added.

The Star-Bulletin/Hawaii News 8 survey was conducted among 428 registered voters statewide by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc. of Columbia, Md. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

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