Even in times of national crisis — 1944 during World War II, for example, or 1864 during the Civil War — elections were held in the United States.

That is the plan for 2020 in Hawaii as well, COVID-19 notwithstanding.

Last week the Hawaii Office of Elections mailed out yellow “signature capture cards” to the neighbor islands that ask voters to update their signatures.

As you may have heard, the primary election on Aug. 8 and the general election on Nov. 3 will be the first statewide election conducted by mail. No traditional polling places will be opened.

A signature capture card from the Office of Elections is not mandatory to complete, but it will help ensure that your ballot is safely counted, officials say. 

According to its website, in order to “ensure the integrity and security of our elections,” the elections office is seeking to verify voter signatures on ballot return envelopes “similar to the way financial institutions verify signatures on checks.”

Signatures can evolve over time, so election officials want folks to make sure their signature is current, to sign the yellow card and to mail it back in with the pre-addressed, postage-paid postcard that is provided.

Nedielyn Bueno, who coordinates Voter Services for the Office of Elections, said radio, TV and digital ads will be running over the next few weeks to remind voters to be on the lookout for the yellow cards.

Rex Quidilla, election administrator for the City and County of Honolulu’s city clerk’s office, says similar signature cards will be mailed to Oahu residents later this month.

Honolulu lags behind the state (which coordinates with the county clerks of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii counties) because officials have had some “design issues” with the cards, he said.

Under the federal Voting Rights Act, the city’s voting cards have to include Ilocano, Chinese and English. The cards will be yellow but larger in size and not identical to the neighbor island signature cards.

The actual mail-in ballots, which include a personalized pre-addressed, postage-paid return envelope, should arrive in mailboxes 18 days prior to each election.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author