Smooth primary
pleases officials

By Nelson Daranciang

Seven voting machines malfunctioned and were replaced. One precinct opened late, and a few closed after 6 p.m. Otherwise, Saturday's primary election ran smoothly, said Chief Elections Officer Dwayne Yoshina.

"I think people are getting used to the system," he said yesterday. "I think the vendor is into the rhythm of the thing. And we're beginning to pick up the rhythm of how we should move ballots through and how we should move cards and all that kind of stuff."

While Yoshina was pleased with the process, he said he was "very disappointed" by the low turnout.

The final printout of election results released early yesterday showed a turnout of 41.1 percent -- about 274,460 ballots cast out of 667,679 registered voters. The lowest turnout for a Hawaii primary was 39.9 percent in 2000.

Hawaii ranked last in the nation for voter turnout in the 2000 general election with 44.1 percent, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report.

As for reasons for low turnout in this primary, election officials and other observers cited voter apathy, Saturday's high school football games at Aloha Stadium, the televised University of Hawaii football game, and confusion caused when redistricting changed polling places for some voters.

Still, Yoshina praised the efforts of election workers.

By 11:05 p.m. the results from all 351 precincts were reported, the earliest state elections officials have ever had the results of 100 percent of the precincts. Those results were released to the public just after 11:30 p.m.

The polling site that opened late is a new precinct in Waikele with new precinct officials, Yoshina said.

The last precinct closed at 6:45 p.m. to accommodate voters who were in line at 6 p.m. when the polls were scheduled to close.

Saturday's was the third election run by Election Systems & Software in which Hawaii voters made their selections with ink pens rather than hole punchers. A simpler ballot meant people spent less time in the booth, Yoshina said.

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