HAWAII: Long Lines Suppressed Republican Votes during the 2020 and 2022 Elections. The Honolulu City Clerk Plans to Do It Again in 2024

Election Day 2020 and 2022 were marred by long lines around Honolulu Hale and Kapiolani Hale forcing voters to wait hours to cast their ballot.

The Honolulu City Clerks’ plan for 2024?  A repeat performance.

Responding to an inquiry from HawaiiFreePress.com, the office of Honolulu City Clerk Glen I. Takahashi explains:

“Kapolei Hale and Honolulu Hale will continue to serve as Voter Service Centers in the 2024 Elections. The City also plans to establish ‘pop up’ voter service centers in Windward and Central Oʻahu during the 10-day in-person voting periods.“

The Clerk then implies his function is to suppress Election Day and Primary Day voting:

“To avoid long lines, we encourage voters to vote by mail. If in-person voter services are required, we encourage voters not to wait until the last day of voting.”

Hawaii Republican walk-in voters in 2022 outnumbered Democrats 2-1.

Democracy requires an election system that respects the voting rights of all citizens.  By placing behavior modification over voter participation, the Clerk is feeding Republican ‘election denier’ conspiracy theories.

After the November, 2020 Elections, Civil Beat reported: “…about 8,000 people showed up Tuesday, overwhelming the voter centers at city halls in Downtown Honolulu and Kapolei.”

“There were seeds sown of distrust,” said Sandy Ma, citing concerns with the postal system cuts that were floated earlier this year. “So it was foreseeable that people wanted to vote in person. There should have been more in-person places opened up.”…

Other mail voting states, like Colorado and Utah, tend to apportion one voter center for every 30,000 to 70,000 voters, according to an analysis from the Vote at Home Institute, which advocates for the adoption of mail voting laws.

Long lines weren’t the only obstacle for Election Day voters.

On Oahu, only two ‘Voter Service Centers’ were open on Election Day and Primary Day to ‘serve’ a population of nearly one million.  Voters from Laie made a 70-mile roundtrip to reach Kapolei Hale or Honolulu Hale.

On Kauai, the only Voter Service Center was in Lihue, requiring a 65-mile roundtrip for voters from Waimea or Hanalei.

On Maui, the only Voter Service Center was in Wailuku, necessitating a five-hour roundtrip from Hana.

On the Big Island, the only Voter Service Centers were in Hilo and Kailua-Kona.  Voters from Hawi or Naalehu faced a four-hour round trip to vote.

All of these Voter Service Centers were located in centers of public employment, effectively boosting union voters’ turnout.  The further from the seat of government, the harder to cast a ballot on Election Day.

Hawaii has no party-line voter registration.  The only measure of party preference comes in Primary Election ballot selection—and the distinction between mail-in and walk-in voters (including those who walk-in voted before Primary Day) is stark.

In the 2020 Primary, among walk-in Primary voters, the ratio of Republicans to Democrats was 79.4%.

In 2022 — after Trump was ‘robbed’ —  it was 210.64% — better than 2-1.

Desperately looking for proof that Trump was robbed in 2020, Hawaii Trumpsters have filed suit after suit –mostly without benefit of counsel– picking at secondary, tertiary and even imaginary flaws in Hawaii’s voting system.   Many of these suits were ghost-written by ‘Klean House Hawaii’—a group which has also repeatedly sued for the removal of the Republican Party from the Hawaii election ballot.  It should not be surprising that all of these suits have been quickly and easily dismissed by the Courts—but the baked-in ingredients of KHH failure feed conspiracy thinking.

The Republican House Caucus is pushing five ‘Election Integrity’ bills: HB1750HB1751HB1752HB1753, and HB1754.

The suits and bills mostly challenge procedures of marginal significance such as voter signature verification or the use of photo images instead of paper ballots to conduct the two legally required post-election precinct audits.

Tellingly, none of the bills and only one of the lawsuits—BJ Penn’s unsuccessful August, 2022 election suit– challenge the obvious and glaring primary example of voter suppression in Hawaii—the hours-long lines and the hours-long drives  in 2020 and 2022 caused by the lack of Election Day polling places statewide.

Meanwhile at least one 2022 Republican legislative candidate—Samantha Decorte in SD22 Waianae–really may have been robbed.  Five primary candidates—including SD35 Democrat Nathan Takeuchi–may also have lost due to Primary Day voter suppression in 2020 and 2022.

Here are the numbers.

The ration of walk-in to mail-in voters in 2020 was 4.958% — almost exactly 5%.

In 2022, with far longer lines, the ratio dropped to 3.979% — almost exactly 4%–a 20% loss.

Were walk-in voters suppressed 20% more by the much longer lines in 2022?

Maile Shimabukuro ‘defeated’ Samantha Decorte by 40 votes in the 2022 race for Senate District 22.  But walk-in voters favored Decorte 571 to 99.  If 20% more walk-in votes had been received, Decorte would have won by 54.

The 20% figure accounts only for the relative effect of 2022’s long lines as compared with 2020.  It does not measure the effect of the long driving distances required for Election Day voter participation.

2020 and 2022 Primary races potentially affected by the suppression of Primary Day voters include:

  • 2020:  HD13 Decoite vs Ritte Democratic Primary—decided by 96 votes.  This margin is larger than others, but it is a two-fer.  Decoite was helped by the presence of a Primary Day Voter Service Center on Molokai where Ritte is hated.  Ritte, on the other hand, was hindered by the absence of any Voter Service Center on Primary Day in his Upcountry Maui haole wokester support base.  After winning the House seat, Decoite was subsequently appointed State Senator.
  • 2022: SD35 Chun vs Takeuchi Democratic Primary – decided by eight votes.  Cory Chun is now a State Senator.
  • 2022: SD24 Fernandez vs Lam Republican Primary – decided by 39 votes.
  • 2022: HD11 Cantere vs Halperin Republican Primary—decided by 17 votes.
  • 2022: HD45 Wilbur vs Oquendo Republican Primary—decided by five votes.

It might be easy to ignore the suppression of voters whose leaders are in on it, but democracy relies on the perception of electoral legitimacy.  If a section of the electorate believes the elections are fraudulent, then democracy itself loses legitimacy.


Andrew Walden

History of Hawaii Elections:

EDITORS NOTE: This Hawaii Free Press column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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