LIHU‘E — Preliminary results as of Tuesday night show incumbents outweighing newcomers in the upcoming iteration of the Kaua‘i County Council with a 72.1% turnout.
The second print-out of the 2020 General Election placed current councilmember Mason Chock leading the group at 18,592 votes, garnering 7.8% of voters as of 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Behind him, incumbent Luke Evslin came in with 17,368, followed by current Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro with 16,550 votes, former mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. garnering 16,345 votes, newcomer Billy DeCosta with 14,516 votes, councilmember Felicia Cowden coming in for her second term with 14,388 votes, and to round out the top seven, KipuKai Kuali‘i with 13,960 votes.
These are preliminary results and may change as results finalize.
In the bottom seven on this first printout came Dr. Addison Bulosan with 11,735 votes, Jade Wai’ale’ale Battad with 10,998 votes, Ed Justus with 6,596 votes, Mike Dandurand with 6,278 votes, Wally Nishimura with 6,210 votes, Shirley Simbre-Medeiros with 5,647 votes and Richard Fukushima with 5,034.
Current Kaua‘i County Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa termed out of the body, and there were no reelection efforts from ex-officio councilmember Arthur Brun who has been unable to perform his council duties due to a federal inditement.
Ballots, and subsequently print-outs and results, are typically available around 7 p.m. election night. That was not the case this year. Ballots could not be counted until all voter service centers wrapped up in-person voting. Though centers in the state closed at 7 p.m., those in line waited it out to cast their votes.
Office of the County Clerk Elections Division Elections Administrator Lyndon Yoshioka said his hands were tied. On Kaua‘i, voting at Pi‘ikoi Building finished up around 7:30 p.m.
“None of us can release the results until voter service centers statewide are closed,” he said at 9 p.m. Tuesday night as he and his team of poll workers waited patiently for voting on O‘ahu to finish. “I’m thankful to the public for being patient during this transition to mail-in only ballots.”
As of the 11:30 p.m. printout, 31,720 residents voted by mail and 2,350 opted for in-person.
Early Tuesday, long-time and first-time voters sat inside the foyer leading to the Voter Service Center in the Pi‘ikoi Building, filling out voter registration forms to cast their votes in person for federal, state and county races.
Devin Valencia-Pereles and her mom, Jennie Valencia, pulled up to the Lihu‘e Civic Center Pi‘ikoi Building to drop off their ballots together.
Valencia said she’s setting an example for her daughter, who was voting for the first time Tuesday. Together, they researched voting history, beliefs and morale.
“It’s about character,” she said.
Yoshioka reported his team of volunteers began opening ballots at noon. For the past week, he and his poll workers have verified signatures, separated ballots from secrecy envelopes and scanned ballots.
Ballots were not tabulated until polls closed, so the scanner essentially took a picture of the ballot, notifying poll observers of errors, like voting too many times in a race. The software to tally up the votes was installed election night.
By Tuesday afternoon, with a line curved around the Pi‘ikoi Building. The U.S. Postal Service did one final sweep around 6 p.m. Tuesday, expediting any discovered ballots to Lihu‘e, Yoshioka said.
“People seem to be heeding to the recommendations (to get ballots in the mail by Oct. 27),” he said. “The drop boxes have been productive.”
By Monday, over 62% of Kaua‘i’s 47,253 registered voters had returned their ballots. That afternoon, the Office of Elections reported more than 29,544 ballots received, 28,052 scanned and 1,492 voted in-person.
Pacita Bugayong of Kalaheo came in Tuesday because she hadn’t received her mail-in ballot.
“I feel happy to come vote, of course. I vote every year,” Bugayong said.
Nearby, Heidi Werner of Kapa‘a waited patiently. She moved to Kaua‘i about three and a half years ago, but also didn’t receive her mail-in ballot.
In federal races, since Hawai‘i is so far west, it can feel like the entire country has been called before island votes are counted. The Associated Press declared Hawai‘i a win for Democratic nominee Joseph Biden at 7:06 p.m., before the first results were shared by the state.
“Some people say our (Hawai‘i vote) don’t matter,” Werner said, “but I have always voted.”
In State Representative District 14, Rep. Nadine Nakamura led with 7,981 votes to challenger Steve Monas’s 2,487.
In District 15, Rep. James Tokioka garnered 7,709 votes to challenger Steve Yoder’s 2,879.
And in Dsitrct 16, Rep. Daynette “Dee” Morikawa held 7,329 votes to Ana Mo Des with 2,609 votes.
This story was updated at 12:27 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4 with updated results.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.