Voter turnout at the Benjamin Parker Elementary School cafeteria polling place was sparse yesterday afternoon. Wendy Pollitt left a polling booth after voting in the special U.S. House election.

Case wins
1st special election
for Congress

Patsy Mink's widower
finished a distant second


Voters in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressinal district elected former state Rep. Ed Case to fill out the remainder of the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink’s term.

Election 2002

Case won the race with 23,576 votes or 51 percent of the votes cast yesterday. Mink’s widower, John Mink was second with 16,624 votes or 36 percent.

Voter turnout was low at 13 percent. Only 46,216 of the 347,000 registered voters in the district went to the polls. The 2nd Congressinal district encompasses rural Oahu and the neighbor islands. The state Office of Elections released the results at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Case will serve out the remainder of Mink’s term that expires on Jan. 3. Unless Congress goes back into session between now and then Case will not even be sworn in to office.

State elections officials said the election cost somewhere between $1.3 million and $1.7 million. There were 38 candidates in the race.

Case is also among 44 candidates running in the Jan. 4 special election to fill the two-year term Mink posthumously won on Nov. 5.

Mink died on Sept. 28 of viral pneumonia a week after winning the Democratic primary.

State Office of Elections



Special election
has low turnout

By Diana Leone

The special election to fill the remaining weeks of the late Patsy Mink's term apparently was no match for the sold-out University of Hawaii-Alabama football game, Christmas shopping and plain-old voter apathy yesterday.

By 1:30 p.m., only about 7 percent of the 500,000 registered voters in the 2nd Congressional District were estimated to have voted for the 38 contenders.

Election results were to be counted this morning and a winner announced this afternoon, said Rex Quidilla, state Office of Elections spokesman.

"I have never missed voting. It's my civic duty and responsibility," Kaneohe resident Bruce Ulrich said after whisking in and out of the almost-empty Ben Parker Elementary polling place in less than two minutes yesterday afternoon.

"The low turnout actually bothers me a lot, because it's for the wrong reasons," Ulrich said. "The UH game, Christmas shopping ... I place a higher priority on this subject (voting) than I do those other causes."

Others who voted yesterday expressed similar sentiments.

"We always vote. It's a responsibility," said Patricia Weissich, who was voting with her husband, Paul. "Even though it almost seems pointless in this case," she added.

Attempting to save money on the special election, the Elections office consolidated polling places and used old-fashioned ballot boxes, instead of electronic counters, Quidilla said.

Not using the electronic counters at each polling site meant that the Office of Elections estimated turnout based on a 1:30 p.m. telephone survey yesterday of some of the 91 polling sites, he said.

No later survey was conducted, because workers had other duties, Quidilla said. Voting was reported as steady through the day at most polling places, he added.

Based on the same 1:30 p.m. survey, Quidilla said, county turnouts were estimated as follows: Maui County at 4 percent; Kauai at 7 percent; Oahu at 10 percent; and Big Island at 9 percent.

Mink died Sept. 28 of viral pneumonia a week after winning the Democratic primary. She was re-elected posthumously on Nov. 5, triggering two special elections: yesterday's to fill her current term and another on Jan. 4 to determine who will serve the two-year term she won in the general election.

If, as expected, Congress does not go back in session between now and noon Jan. 3, when Mink's current term ends, yesterday's winner will not get to cast any Congressional votes and will not even be sworn in to office.

Still, the election was expected to cost somewhere between $1.3 million and $1.7 million.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Urban Honolulu, defended the cost.

"People are dying around the world for the right to vote," he said. "For someone to say it is something they don't want to bother with is indicative of just how easy we have it."

Mink's husband, John, and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Case are viewed by many as front-runners in the 38-person winner-takes-all race.

John Mink, who is not running for the two-year term in the Jan. 4 special election, has said he wanted to wrap up his wife's work in Washington.

Case, who is among 44 contenders in the Jan. 4 election, has said he wants to get a jump start on the full term. Proponents of yesterday's election have said that if the winner also wins on Jan 4, he or she will have seniority over new House members who start their first term in January.

In the Jan. 4 election, Case faces 16 Republicans, 11 other Democrats, 13 independents, two Greens and one Libertarian in that election. Among them are former state senator and unsuccessful lieutenant governor candidate Matt Matsunaga and state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, both Democrats, and Republicans state Reps. Barbara Marumoto and Chris Halford, former state Reps. Bob McDermott and Jim Rath, and former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

State Office of Elections

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