About 75,000 Oahu residents have already voted in this year’s primary.
Some 70,000 mail ballots had been returned as of Monday, and about 4,700 other voters had cast ballots at early walk-in polling places, according to the Honolulu Division of Elections.
Oahu residents make up the bulk of about 112,000 voters statewide who have already taken advantage of early voting opportunities. That’s about 14 percent of registered voters, the state Office of Elections said.
More than 100,000 people statewide have already voted at early polling locations and by mail. Seen here are early voters at Honolulu Hale in 2016.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
In the 2016 primary, the total voter turnout was 34 percent. In that election, just under 727,000 Hawaii residents were registered.
About 741,000 residents were registered statewide as of Monday, according to the Office of Elections. That number is expected to rise, because for the first time this year people can register right up to election day throughout the state.
Completed mail ballots must be received by the elections office before 6 p.m. Saturday, the day of the primary election.
“Those people hanging on to absentee ballots need to make sure they get it out,” said Rex Quidilla, Honolulu’s elections administrator.
Honolulu was receiving 600 to 700 ballots a day last week, according to a tweet from the office.
State and county elections officials said Monday they wouldn’t make predictions about the primary turnout. They also weren’t speculating Monday about any potential impacts from Hurricane Hector, which is expected to pass south of the Big Island on Wednesday.
“It’s still too early to tell,” said Nedielyn Bueno, a public information officer with the state Office of Elections. “However, state law allows us to prepare for disasters.”
The office has the authority to consolidate polling locations or even reschedule voting dates in the event of natural disasters.
That’s what happened in 2014 when Tropical Storm Iselle battered the Big Island’s east coast, delaying the casting of nearly 7,000 votes. This year, two precincts will share a polling location in the Pahoa region devastated by lava.
Hawaii County had received about 17,000 early ballots by Friday, and about 1,200 came from the precincts affected by lava.
If critical highways on the Big Island are damaged by lava, an earthquake or other natural disaster, the Hawaii National Guard would deliver the votes to the elections office, according to Hawaii County Clerk Stewart Maeda.
Maui County had received about 13,115 ballots as of Saturday (1,443 from early walk-ins and 11,672 by mail), according to county Elections Division.
Kauai County had received 7,292 ballots as of Monday afternoon — 1,480 from early walk-ins and 5,812 by mail.
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Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell