Governor Neil Abercrombie has issued a proclamation to extend polling hours on Hawai’i Island only by an hour and a half today. Polling locations in the Counties of Maui, Kaua’i and Honolulu will close at the 6 p.m.; polling locations in Hawai’i County will close at 7:30 p.m.
The Governor’s statement acknowledges that this morning, there were multiple polling stations on Hawai’i Island that opened later than scheduled. The length of the delays varied from a few minutes in some places to more than a half hour in others, and almost an hour and a half in one location. (Editor note: polls opened at 8:30 or just a little after at Kona Vistas and Kahakai School)
“The most important issue in this situation is to make sure that everyone who wants to vote can vote. By extending the poll hours, we are making that possible,” stated Governor Abercrombie. “I also want to thank all those who are working hard to assist at all polling stations across the state.”
State Senator Josh Green, (D-West Hawaii), put the wheels in motion once he learned that four polling locations on the West side of Hawaii Island opened significantly late. “Out of concern for those voters who were not able to vote in the morning in Kona because of delays at the polls, I made a formal request to the Attorney General and the Governor to extend voting hours West Hawaii to make sure everyone was able to vote. The Governor responded positively and granted my request for our West Hawaii voters and the rest of the Big Island where there were similar problems.
It was important to me that Big Island voices were heard and our votes were all counted.”
There is a precedent for polls to remain open late in the case of a natural disaster. All such decisions go through State Elections, to the State Attorney General, to the Governor for final review.
5 p.m. update:
State Elections Chief Scott Nago says that early today, County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi told the state that only three Hawaii Island polling places opened late. But as time went on, and they got more information, they came to believe that as many as 25 polling places opened late. Nago said in talking with Hawaii News Now reporter Keoki Kerr,
At the Hilo County Building, State Sheriff’s Deputies were barring anybody from entering. Several candidates have expressed concern over the process.
The first set of results will be issued as late as 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For Hawaii Island it should include all the absentee ballots, but the results for other islands, where polls close at 6 pm., will likely include some of today’s voters. The last time the polls stayed open late was in 1996, due to weather problems.