By Jim Bea Sampaga
For the first time, Hawaii state will be voting almost entirely by mail. The first voting by mail will be on August 8 Primary Elections followed by the General Election on November 3rd.
Exercising your right to vote is more than just choosing a name to put in the ballot. It’s about making your voice be heard and electing the right candidates for the betterment of your state and the whole country.
Voting can be overwhelming with multiple candidates to choose from. While, the actual voting process can be tedious for some. Don’t worry! We’re here to break down the voting process for you as Hawaii undergoes its first vote-by-mail election.
Preparing to Vote
Research about your district’s candidates for City Council, State House and Senate, and Honolulu Mayoral and prosecutor attorney candidates. Learn more about the U.S. Presidential and U.S. House Hawaii candidates.
Researching and learning more about the candidates’ backgrounds and priorities will help you decide on electing a public official. To read more about the candidates, you can search them on Google, follow them on social media or read Hawaii Filipino Chronicle’s supplement cover story on Filipino-American candidates running this upcoming Primary Elections.
Make sure that you are registered to vote. Head online to olvr.hawaii.gov to verify your voter registration status and provide your Hawaii Driver License or Hawaii State ID, and Social Security Number. If you recently moved or legally changed your name, you can still update your registration on the website provided above.
Voting by mail
Now that you’ve researched the candidates and verified your voter registration, it’s time to cast your vote on the ballot. But how exactly do you vote by mail?
Approximately 18 days before the election, registered voters will receive a mail ballot packet from their local Clerk’s Office in the address associated with their voter registration. If you didn’t receive your ballot packet, contact your local Clerk’s Office as soon as possible. You can find your county clerk’s address and contact information on elections.hawaii.gov.
The mail ballot packet contains a ballot, ballot secrecy, return ballot envelope and voting instructions.
Once you’ve voted on your ballot, place the ballot in the secrecy sleeve and envelope that came in with your ballot mail. Make sure to sign your envelope. Envelopes without signature will not be counted. Simply put the mail in your mailbox to be mailed back to the Clerk’s Office. The return envelope has a prepaid postage and is already addressed to your local Clerk’s Office.
Don’t want to return your ballot by mail? You can drop your ballot off in-person at a designated place of deposit: the local Clerk’s Office or Voter Service Center.
Voting in Person
With Hawaii almost entirely voting by mail, there are no polling stations available. The Office of Elections highly recommends voting by mail to avoid crowded places and maintain social distancing. However, if you still want to vote in person, you can visit Voter Service Centers to cast your vote and register to vote on the same day. Voter Service Centers are open 10 business days prior to each election and their address can be found on elections.hawaii.gov.
Your Election Votes’ Security
Once your mail ballot packet arrives at the Clerk’s Office, County Election officials will verify your ballot by scanning your voter registration barcode and signature. To track your mail ballot, you can login to the Office of Elections’ ballot receipt portal.
Each ballot contains a barcode that is only designated to the registered voter. This unique barcode prevents a voter from voting twice. If the Clerk’s Office already received and scanned your mail ballot, you will not be able to vote again in-person at a voter service center. If you voted in person, your mail ballot packet will not be accepted.
To verify your ballot, County Election officials scan your signature outside of your return envelope to be matched to the signature on your voter registration file record.
Once your barcode and signature are verified, your ballot is on its way to being counted.
If you have questions or concerns, visit elections.hawaii. gov or reach them at email@example.com or (808) 453-8683.