Voter turnout is largest since 2008

LIHUE — It was a historic 2016 general election for many reasons, more so than just the presidential race.

The 2016 general election saw the highest voter turnout in Kauai since the 2008 general election, which featured U.S. Senators Barack Obama and John McCain.

“I think that the GOP on Kauai has been working harder than ever to get candidates and get vote-watchers and conduct meetings,” said Steve Yoder, chairman of the Kauai Republican Party.

The island of Kauai saw a big increase in voter turnout juxtaposed to the primary election back in August, with an increase in turnout of 44 percent.

“We did have much more people turn out for the general,” said Lyndon Yoshioka, county elections administrator. “We were more happy that people cast a ballot this time around.”

Compared to the primary election that took place earlier this year, the general election’s turnout was much more promising.

Out of 44,332 registered voters on Kauai, 27,225 residents, or 61.4 percent of voters, came out to vote during the general election on Tuesday. Of the 27,225, 15,221 were absentee voters while 12,004 were precinct voters.

During the primary, 15,273 residents came out on August 13 to cast their vote.

Approximately 55.9 percent of all Kauai voters voted absentee this general election, compared to 44.1 percent for precinct.

“There were more people who voted early and voted absentee ballot,” Yoshioka said. “We do see, generally speaking, an increasing trend in absentee voting.”

Over 60.4 percent of Kauai voters selected Hillary Clinton for the presidential race, while Donald Trump received 27.8 percent of votes. Almost 900 voters left the presidential ballot blank.

“I am pleased with the votes that we got, but I’m never pleased with the votes that other people got,” Yoder said.

While the Republican Party didn’t make much headway in terms of the local races, Yoder was impressed by the amount of progress the party has made, which is a direct result of the party’s hard work over the past few months.

“I was proud of Sandi Combs getting that many votes. Those who knocked on the most doors win. You can’t win by just putting up banners and yard signs,” Yoder said. “If people don’t like you, people won’t vote for you. Candidates have to get into the field and knock on doors and talk to people.”

This year’s voter turnout had 3,182 more residents who came out to vote than the 2014 general election, and 1,608 more than the 2012 general election.

“Take a look at 2012 to see how how many votes Obama got compared to what Hillary got this year,” Yoder said. “Everyone in our (viewing party) last night had a good time.”

While the Republican Party celebrated its presidential victory, Yoder did acknowledge that Hawaii’s Republicans didn’t so well.

“Hawaii is a very conservative state,” Yoder said. “We had a terrible day in Hawaii in terms of the Republican party. But in terms of our nation, it was a darn good day. We’re still getting more people out to vote and I really want to get more people involved.”

Hawaii’s Democratic candidates did well during the general election, but losing the presidency was, as Janice Bond told The Garden Island, sad to see.

“At our AARP meeting today, we had someone come in who does counseling and she was talking about anxiety and depression, and I said, ‘You should Facebook with everybody moving to Canada,’” said Bond, a member of the Kauai Democratic District Committee. “It was one of those things where we have to move on and hope for the best, I guess. And it’s a shame because of what the DNC did with Bernie Sanders. I think he was the best candidate.”

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