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Special coverage of the 2020 general election airs and streams on Hawaii Public Radio beginning Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m. Hear NPR analysis and local insights into the results and the aftermath airing on HPR-1 and streaming on and our mobile app.

Common Cause Warned That More Voter Centers Would Be Needed

Ashley Mizuo/HPR
Voters line up at Honolulu Hale to cast ballots in person on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.

Results in Hawaii’s first-ever vote by mail election were severely delayed last night by long lines of residents casting votes -- in person.


Although 2020 was billed as Hawaii’s first all-mail-in election, voters always have to read the fine print.


While the goal was for all registered voters to cast their ballots by mail or drop box, traditional, in-person voting was still available on every island.


But and again, the fine print --  only at select locations. In fact, there were only eight polling places state wide that allowed in person voting.


The State Office of Elections would not release initial results until every voter in line had finished, which led to hours long delays.


Sandy Ma, with good governance group Common Cause Hawaii, had raised a red flag about the small number of voter service centers.


"Common Cause has been advocating for additional voter service centers. Certainly eight statewide is not enough," Ma said.


It appears that many Hawaii residents decided to take that option to vote in person.


Some may have missed the deadline to register for a mail ballot.


Honolulu’s City Clerk Glen Takahashi told HPR that as many as 60,000 ballots on Oahu had problems being delivered.


The vast majority did reach their owners and 484,000 early votes were cast statewide by mail or drop box.


But Sandy Ma says there will always be some people who want to vote in person.


"Young voters, people who traditionally do not vote, voters from minority populations, they like to vote in person," she said. "So we need to have those options available. I’m not saying we should have the same amount of in person options available, but we need to have more than just eight statewide."


But overall Ma remains bullish on mail voting, especially when it comes to turnout.


The state Office of Elections reported that 2020 turnout surpassed 2016 numbers before we even hit Election Day.


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