Maui Election

Voter Service Center in Wailuku busy on Election Day; 35,000 Maui residents already have voted

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James Helmeczi of Pāʻia casts his ballot for the 2022 General Election at a Maui County Voter Service Center, located at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku. Photo Credit: Cammy Clark

Lacie Cabrido lives right across the street from the Voter Service Center at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku. While it could not be any more convenient for her to vote, she was one of the thousands of Maui County residents who waited to Election Day to cast her ballot.

She put her ballot in the drop box outside the Voter Service Center while holding her dog Bella. She said the issues that concern her most are: “Affordable housing, jobs for locals, for sure, more jobs, definitely, and water rights, especially for people upcountry.”

On the morning of Election Day (Nov. 8), the Voter Service Center in Wailuku had a steady stream of people driving through the parking lot to put their ballots in the drop box. Election official Bill Ramaila said about 300 votes had been cast in the first 2 1/2 hours.

There also was a steady stream of people opting to stand in line at the Voter Service Center either to same-day register to vote, to cast their vote in person or to get a replacement ballot. The line fluctuated from about 25 to 35 people during mid-morning.

“It just takes a little while to vote,” said one election volunteer.

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Most people chose to use one of the nine computer voting machines. The tables where people could fill out paper ballots remained mostly empty.

One woman grumbled about the time she had to spend in line. She said she came on Election Day because she wanted to vote in person. When told by an election volunteer that she could have done so at the same location for the past two weeks, the woman said: “I didnʻt know that.”

Most Maui residents casts their ballots through the mail. Kathy Kaohu, County Clerk for Maui County, called the election office at 9:30 a.m. to get the most up-to-date return numbers. As of the evening of Nov. 7, 34,872 early votes had been processed. There also were a couple of boxes of ballots that had come in Nov. 7 but had yet to be processed.

“That number is really encouraging,” Kaohu said. “We are further ahead than the primary election at this time.”

During the 2022 Primary Election, a total of 39,731 people voted: (38,359 by mail) and 1,372 in person. It was 35% of the 113,427 registered voters.

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For today’s General Election, all votes in Hawai’i must be received by 7 p.m. to count. The Voter Service Centers stay open until the polls close.

Maui Now will have fast local and state election results. The first results are expected at about 7:30 tonight.

This is the fourth election using the all-mail voting system that the State of Hawai’i implemented in 2020. Kaohu said the experience of running those past elections has helped this current election run smoothly.

“So far, so good,” she said on the morning of Election Day. “We are keeping things moving. Unfortunately, we’ve been open for two weeks, but people choose to come today.”

There are still people who believe that the 2020 election was rigged and that there will be massive voter fraud in 2022.

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They include two women standing next to the orange election poster indicating it was a “Place of Ballot Deposit.” They declined to give their names but said they were “watching for the integrity of the election.”

They said they did not like that there were only two Voter Service Centers on Maui (the other is in Hana) and not several places to vote in person like there used to be. They also said they were suspicious that voters using the drive-thru were handing their ballots to the election officials to put in the drop box instead of putting the ballots in themselves.

Kaohu said: “We’re doing everything by the letter of the law, HRS [Hawai’i Revised Statutes] and federal law.”

  • Wailuku resident Lacie Cabrido, with her dog Bella, puts her ballot in the drop box at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku on Nov. 8 as election official Bill Ramaila watches. Photo Credit: Cammy Clark
  • Kathy Kaohu, County Clerk of Maui County, said on Nov. 8 that early voter turnout has been good for the 2022 General Election. Photo Credit: Cammy Clark
  • Kathy Kaohu, County Clerk of Maui County, said the election has been running smoothly with a good early turnout for the 2022 General Election. Photo Credit: Cammy Clark
  • People stand in line on Nov. 8 at the Voter Service Center in Wailuku to use one of the nine computer voting machines. People also could use a paper ballot to vote in person at the Voter Service Center. Photo Credit: Cammy Clark
  • Maui residents could register to vote or vote in person at the Voter Service Center at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku. Photo Credit: Cammy Clark

Kaohu also said election officials ask voters using the drive-thru if they want them to drop the ballot in the box or if the voters want to get out of their vehicles and do it themselves.

“I notice a lot of the elderly are taking advantage of the drive-thru,” Kaohu.

Many more people are expected to vote before the polls close at 7 p.m.

Election official Walter Barry, who also was at the drop box site in Wailuku, said he was not allowed to discuss politics while doing the job. But he said, “I will tell you this. I think Hawai’i should have a Lotto. Did you see it’s up to 2 billion now?”

Cammy Clark
Cammy Clark works for Maui Now as a news reporter. She has more than 30 years of journalism experience, previously working for the Miami Herald as the Florida Keys Bureau chief and sport writer, the Washington Post, St. Petersburg Times, United Press International, the Orange County Register and WRC-TV/George Michael Sports Machine. She grew up in New Hampshire and studied print journalism at American University in Washington, D.C., where she was the sports editor for the college newspaper, The Eagle.
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