First winnersAs the state's vote-counting system becomes more and more computerized, the actual count of the ballots becomes faster and faster, but you probably won't know who won until about 9 p.m.
at 9 tonight
The new computerized
counting system is ready
but may have delays
Elections won't disturb
some regular TV shows
ONLINE ELECTION COVERAGE
By Richard Borreca
Here's a rundown of how the system will work.
The first ballots to be counted in the state today will be the absentee mail-in and walk-in ballots cast at City Hall, Pearlridge Center, Windward Mall and the neighbor islands.
Dwayne Yoshina, chief election officer, started the computerized counting process in the basement of the state Capitol around 8 a.m. today.
Those ballots had already been scanned into a computer and the results put on an electronic card. The electronic cards were then read into a computer.
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And there they will sit until the last person in line in the last precinct in the state votes after the polls close at 6 p.m.
Once the 6 p.m. returns are reported, the public won't know who won or lost because that first return will only be those absentee votes. Only about 26,000 absentee ballots have been issued across the state, according to the county clerks.
Overall voter turnout is expected to be light, according to Yoshina, the city clerk and representatives of both major political parties, but there could be delays on the Big Island because of the heated mayor's race.
Precinct officials will start moving the ballots and the electronic cards to the counting centers on each island after the polls close.
On Oahu, the state has hired cabs to transport the ballots and the cards to the state Capitol counting center.
Barring any problems, the cards are slipped into the computer, and the results should be downloaded and ready for a 9 p.m. printout.
But there are possible delays.
First, the sheer size of the Big Island means that moving all the cards and ballots to the Hilo counting center will make it a long night for election workers. Three people are supposed to watch over the cards and the ballots on their journey.
The ballots are needed because the computers will read the cards only once. This is to prevent over-counting the ballots, but it means that if something happens to that electronic card, the ballots will have to be scanned into the system at the counting center.
When the results are prepared, they will be sent via computer modem and fax to the state center and released there.
Yoshina promised that he will release all the information he has at 9 p.m. It's estimated that most races will have more than 95 percent of their complete vote counted by 9 p.m.
The one additional snag of the counting system could be caused by people who asked for a mail-in absentee ballot, but instead of mailing it back, hand-carried it to the polling place on election day.
Two years ago, 700 people did that, Yoshina says. The election officials must examine the ballot to make sure the person hasn't already voted, then compare the signature on file with the signature on the mail-in ballot. That takes hours, Yoshina said.
Those ballots may be included in the final printout, expected about 11:30 p.m., but one more summary report is expected in the early morning with all the votes finally counted.
Olympics, "Big Brother" and "Survivor" fans will be able to get primary election results tonight without having to worry about missing any programming.
Elections wont disturb
some regular TV shows
By Treena Shapiro
According to Executive News Director Chuck Parker, NBC-affiliate KHNL News-8 will continue uninterrupted Olympics coverage, but will have election returns running along the bottom third of the screen.
The station will also have newsbreaks in the early evening, which will contain election results, if available.
At 9 p.m., KHNL will air a half-hour newscast, then will have complete election coverage from 11 p.m. until all the returns are in.
KGMB 9, the local CBS affiliate, will begin the evening with an hour-long live newscast starting at 6 p.m., News Director Jim Lemon said. KGMB anchors Jim Mendoza and Jade Moon will be joined by political analyst Jim Shon in the newsroom, and field anchor Kim Gennaula will report from the Capitol.
The station will air the network program "Big Brother" at 7 p.m. and a rerun of "Survivor" at 8 p.m.
If a printout of election results comes out during either of the two shows, the program may be interrupted, but the taped program will resume at the same spot, Lemon said.
The station may also run numbers at the bottom of the screen.
Live election coverage will begin at 9 p.m. and continue until all the Oahu races are decided.
KHON will begin election coverage on the 6 p.m. news with Joe Moore, then begin continuous special election coverage from 6:30 p.m. through 8:15 p.m., with live crews all over the state.
News Director Jim McCoy said between 8:15 and 9 p.m., the station may continue live coverage or run an episode of "Friends." After 9 p.m., the station will air live election coverage with plans to sign off at 10:35 p.m.
KITV-4 News Director Wally Zimmermann promises a "continuous crawl" of race results throughout the evening, beginning at 6 p.m. While the station may air entertainment programming -- ABC's "All Star Bloopers," the season premiere of "Baywatch" and "Third Rock from the Sun" -- the shows will be pre-empted as needed for election coverage.
The station will have continuous live coverage from around the state from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. through 10:30 p.m., Zimmermann said.