The state Office of Elections has completed its recounts of the three closest primary races for this year, but the vote totals could still change somewhat.

A new state law requires that any race with a margin of victory that is less than 0.25% of turnout or 100 votes automatically triggers a recount. At the Legislature, that law affected two particularly close races in Saturday’s primary.

State Rep. Lynn DeCoite won re-election by defeating longtime activist Walter Ritte Jr. in the Democratic primary to represent House District 13, which includes Haiku, Hana, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Nahiku, Paia, Lanai and Molokai, but the vote in the original tally was close.

DeCoite had 3,243 votes in the final returns, compared with 3,152 for Ritte. That thin margin between them triggered a recount that was completed in the early morning hours on Tuesday, and gave DeCoite 3,244 to Ritte’s 3,151.

Rep Lynn DeCoite during cesspool forum held at the Capitol.
Rep. Lynn DeCoite, seen here at a 2018 House hearing, narrowly won her primary race against Walter Ritte Jr. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2018

However, those vote totals may change again as the Maui County Clerk sorts through ballots that were not counted because of problems such as the signatures of the ballot envelopes not matching the signatures on file with the clerk’s office. The clerk is required to reach out to those voters to give them a chance to fix the problem, and the voters have five business days to do that.

A spokeswoman for the state Office of Elections said at the end of the five days, the counties will forward the qualified ballots that were not counted to the state to be included in the totals, which may change the tallies in some races.

The recounts cannot be delayed until after the county clerks do their work qualifying the ballots because the new recount law requires that the recounts be completed within 72 hours of the election, the spokeswoman said.

DeCoite now advances to compete with Republican Robin Vanderpool and Aloha Aina candidate Theresa Kapaku in the Nov. 3 general election.

In one of only two competitive GOP House primary races this year, the final count for District 30 gave Tess Quilingking 236 votes to 205 votes for Pualani Azinga. The recount gave Quilingking 237 votes to 204 for Azinga.

Quilingking will now compete with Ernesto “Sonny” Ganaden in the general election for the House seat that represents Kalihi Kai, Sand Island, Hickam, Pearl Harbor, Ford Island and Halawa Valley Estate.

The Kauai County Council race was also subject to a recount, but the lineup remained the same. The top 14 candidates who will advance to the general election are Mason Chock with 12,197 votes; Luke Evslin with 12,046; Arryl Kaneshiro with 11,508; Bernard Carvalho with 11,099; KipuKai Kualii with 9,474; Felicia Cowden with 8,669; Billy DeCosta with 7,344; Jade Waialeale Battad with 5,776; Addison Bulosan with 5,647; Ed Justus with 3,428; Wally Nishimura with 3,281; Richard Fukushima with 3,017; Shirley Simbre-Medeiros with 2,790; and Mike Dandurand with 2,556.

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