Election Day Contingency Plans Implemented as Lava Flow Advances
By Wendy Osher
Elections officials are carrying out contingency plans as an advancing lava flow is expected to cut off access to the Pāhoa Community Center polling place for some residents on Hawaiʻi Island.
Chief Election Officer, Scott Nago said, “The flow is expected to cross Highway 130, cutting off access to voters living in ʻAinaloa and Orchidlands Estates.”
Affected voters who were assigned to the Pāhoa Community Center, but live north of the lava flow, are being directed to vote at the Hawaiian Paradise Community Center on November 4, 2014.
According to Nago’s estimates, there are approximately 2,000 voters affected by the move.
Voters who were assigned to vote at the Pāhoa Community Center, who still have access to the facility may still vote at the site.
In preparation for the lava flow, county election officials mailed out absentee mail applications to voters in the area and set-up an early vote location at Nānāwale Community Center, which will remain open through Friday, Oct. 31, 2014.
“This latest move is meant to ensure access to voters who choose to vote on Election Day,” according to a press release issued by the state election office.
Election officials remind voters that today (Tuesday, Oct. 28) is the last day to request an absentee ballot. Absentee applications must be received by the County Clerk’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, Oct. 28. Applications are available at post offices, libraries, satellite city hall, county clerk offices or online.
As of 8 a.m. today, the flow remained active and had advanced approximately 90 yards since yesterday, according to Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense officials.
The agency notes that the flow was last located 510 yards from Pāhoa Village Road and had entered a private residential property.
The agency called the flow advancement “inconsistent,” averaging approximately 5 yards per hour.
“Based on the current flow location, direction and advancement, residents in the flow path were placed on an evacuation advisory and notified of possible need for evacuation beginning last night,” according to an eruption information update posted by Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense this morning.