We’re getting down to the wire in Hawai‘i’s first mail-in primary election, and if you’ve been following along with The Garden Island, you know that a team of volunteers in the county Office of the County Clerk Elections Division has already sorted more than 12,000 primary-election ballots.
It’s anything but business as usual over there. Volunteers are sorting mail, weighing boxes, verifying identities and scanning for errors. They are doing everything except counting individual votes for candidates in preparation for Saturday night.
That’s because Saturday night is election night, and as Sabrina Bodon reported in the Aug. 5 edition of TGI, the software to tally up the votes will be installed on scanner machines election night.
Even though computers do the actual counting, Saturday night is going to be busy down at the Elections Division, and it’s unknown how long it will take to tally all of the voter results on Kaua‘i. Ballots are still arriving at the Elections Division by mail, and the Voter Service Center at the Lihu‘e Civic Center Pi‘ikoi Building is accepting in-person votes through 4:30 p.m. today. Saturday, the VSC will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Ballots are also being collected at the Hanalei, Kapa‘a, Hanapepe and Kalaheo fire stations around the island, and balloting closes with the voting center at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on the count and will report the latest results we can in the Sunday edition of TGI, with any late-breaking news available on our website as it happens. And, we’ll follow up initial reporting of results with more stories throughout the following week.
Saturday’s primary is the first major step toward the November 2020 elections, with voters choosing representation for federal, state and county positions. Among the list is the Kaua‘i County Council, with 21 candidates in the field. That number will be cut to 14 after results are counted.
Only five of the council candidates are incumbents, so at least two new faces will be voted into office by the end of the year — Councilmember Ross Kagawa has termed out of his seat and Councilmember Arthur Brun is in federal custody.
Brun hasn’t been working with the body since February, and is now classified as an ex-officio member after being arrested on charges of running a methamphetamine-trafficking operation on the island.
He’s currently awaiting trail, which was originally scheduled for April 26. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered court closures and complications, and has pushed back his trail date months. Brun is now scheduled for pretrial hearings at the end of September. The trial is currently scheduled to start Oct. 26.
So, no doubt there will be new faces on the council come 2021, though those new faces might be a bit familiar. Among the candidates that aren’t incumbents are former mayor Bernard Carvalho, with his three-decade history of work with the county, and small businessman Ed Justus, formerly a member of the county Charter Review Commission.
As of today’s printing you have roughly two days to get your vote in for the 2020 primary elections, and it isn’t recommended to just pop that ballot into the mail at the last minute. Once the clock strikes 7 p.m. on Saturday, polls are closed.
So, if you’ve got that ballot lying around your house, fill it out and then drop it off in person at the VSC or at a ballot collection bin at one of the island fire stations.