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Over 141,000 ballots already received in primary. Here's how they're being processed

state office of elections 2022 hawaii ballots voting day
Sabrina Bodon
Pre-processed primary election ballots sit locked up in the Hawaiʻi State Capitol ahead of the election on Saturday, Aug. 13.

As of Friday, the state has received more than 141,000 ballots for this year’s primary election. With less than a week to go, the state has been pre-processing mail-in ballots.

Ballots collected via mail or dropped off at a deposit box on O’ahu eventually make it to the Hawaiʻi State Capitol building for pre-processing following signature verification from the Honolulu City Clerk’s Office, Scott Nago, the state’s Chief Election Officer, said.

It’s a multi-step process to keep ballots confidential. First, volunteers remove all identifying information from the secrecy sleeve before the ballot is removed.

“There's nothing tying the voter to their ballot on the sleeve,” Nago said.

Once they’re processed and scanned, the ballots are locked up and stored for 22 months, according to federal standards. They won’t be counted until Saturday night, once polls across the state have closed.

 State Election Division staff use a letter opener to sort through primary election ballots
Sabrina Bodon
State Election Division staff use a letter opener to sort through primary election ballots.

Every part of ballot collecting and pre-processing is witnessed by official observers, who join more than 600 volunteers across the state.

“We’re no different than any jurisdiction in the nation,” Nago said. “Transparency or integrity is something that we all strive for, or it's what we do.”

To be counted, ballots need to be received by its county’s election division by 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13.

With less than a week to primary election day, voters are encouraged to submit their ballots via a drop box or at a Voter Service Center, instead of relying on the mail.

Sabrina Bodon is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at or 808-792-8252.
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