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Saturday, September 23, 2000

Who Wants To Be A Politician?

Turnout called
low; some ballot
errors occur

Many had spoiled ballots because
of confusion over how
to mark the sheet


Late Breaking
Election Results

By Helen Altonn

Lackluster races and beautiful weather for other activities contributed to what appeared to be light voter turnout reported across the state early today.

"I've never seen it so light," said Lucile Mistysyn, a 50-year resident of the Palolo area, after voting at Aliiolani Elementary School in Palolo. "I'm amazed."

Mistysyn, who worked on elections in the days when votes were counted manually, also said she thought the ballot was too complicated for many people. "I think they're going to be terribly confused, and it's slower."

Unlike problems with the new election system two years ago, Office of Elections spokesman Rex Quidilla said only typical glitches had been reported on Oahu. "We're quite happy with what's going on."

But ballot problems were reported at various precincts: Color-blind people said they didn't know which column was which. Some voters said they thought they had to fill in all the spaces, which spoiled the ballots.

And some election officials were reported as having voters remove ballots from envelopes and inspecting it manually instead of putting it into the machine, which raised a question about maintaining secrecy of the vote.

On the Big Island, when election workers arrived at Hilo Intermediate School to set up at 5:30 a.m., the janitor hadn't opened the school, according to Hawaii County Clerk Al Konishi. By the time they found the principal to open up at 7:15 a.m., about 20 disgusted people had left.

Voters got in about 7:38 a.m. but the machine didn't work, even after a voting company representative walked them through it by telephone step by step. The ballots were put into an emergency bin in the nonfunctioning machine until 9:20 a.m., when a backup machine was brought in.

Elections observer John Luchau at Hawaiian Paradise Park said about 10 percent of voters were getting ballots kicked back for voting for more than one party, but they picked up new ballots and voted again.

Despite interest in the Big Island's heated mayor's race, Konishi predicted a low 51 percent turnout overall.

Kauai County Clerk Peter Nakamura also expected a light turnout because of no exciting races and nonpartisan council elections for the second time.

Maui County voters were voting in their first nonpartisan election for council, with political affiliation of candidates not shown on ballots.

"I like it," said Wailuku resident Terry Inamasu. "I think it's real fair that way."

Jim Grey, first in line to vote at Koko Head Elementary School on Oahu before going to work at City Mill, said he was interested in the Honolulu mayor's race. "It's run its course," he said, referring to the present administration.

Arnold and Ruth Ikeda, voting at Aina Haina Elementary School, said they didn't like the ballot and would like to see one-party ballots restored.

Chad Morgan, 32, University of Hawaii computer sciences student, said: "The guy handling spoiling ballots has got his hands full. A lot of people had problems, including me."

Morgan, who voted at Aliiolani Elementary School, said he didn't want to leave anything blank because he thought his vote wouldn't be counted, which spoiled his ballot.

Quidilla said: "If they spoil a ballot, that's fine. We made it easy for them to vote again and cast the ballot they want to cast."

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