Kaua’i voter turnout up

Despite the late election season date of Saturday’s special election to choose the replacement for the seat of the late Congresswoman Patsy Mink, Kaua’i elections officials noted a favorable voter turnout.

“We did not expect it to be as busy as a regularly scheduled election, but it looks like it’s going to be higher turnout than the Nov. 30 special election,” Peter Nakamura, county clerk, said Saturday afternoon.

The winner of the Jan. 4 election will fill Mink’s two-year term. Mink died of viral pneumonia last Sept. 28. Election officials were not able to remove her name from the general election ballot, and she won posthumously. Former state representative Ed Case (D) won a Nov. 30 special election for the remainder of Mink’s term over Mink’s husband John Mink, and Republican opponent John Carroll.

Matt Matsunaga (D) is said to be Case’s stiffest challenge to take the final special election.

After Kaua’i’s eight precincts closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, ballots were delivered directly to Lihu’e Airport and flown to O’ahu via a state-chartered flight. The ballot boxes from Kaua’i were accompanied by elections observer Dale Takiguchi. Two Kaua’i elections officials were also scheduled to go on the flight. Ballots will are being counted today by state elections officials.

The state decided not to use computerized ballot tabulators on the Neighbor Islands, which cut down costs by not having to hire vote counters in each precinct and each county.

“This election is for the actual two-year term, and there was more serious campaign efforts by candidates,” Nakamura said, explaining one reason for a higher voter turnout than the Nov. 30 election.

Nakamura did not have the final count of Saturday’s voter turnout, but 1,751 absentee walk-in votes were cast prior to Saturday; and of 2,082 absentee ballots sent out in the mail, 1,769 people were cast.

A total of 44 candidates were listed on the ballot. Based upon mailing addresses, four men from Kaua’i entered the race: Gregory Goodwin, Hanalei; Marshall Turner, Lihu’e; and Nelson Secretario, Kapa’a; and Jeff Mallan from Kapa’a.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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