Votes growing in Trevor Ozawa-­Tommy Waters rematch for Honolulu City Council seat

The Elections Division sent out 63,392 ballots to eligible voters, so the 30,086 votes received represent a turnout of about 47.5%.

Compare that with the November election, which showed Ozawa beating Waters by a razor-thin 22-vote margin. In District 4, 39,613 people cast ballots with 18,358 votes for Ozawa, 18,336 votes for Waters. The rest were blank or “over” votes.

University of Hawaii political science professor Colin Moore said that “for a special election, that’s a remarkable turnout, and that’s going to grow too,” he said.

Votes are being received through 6 p.m. Saturday. District voters also can continue to walk into Honolulu Hale and vote in person — from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday, or from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday.

District 4 runs from Hawaii Kai to Ala Moana.

Moore said there may be several factors contributing to the large turnout. The election follows an unprecedented ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court to invalidate the results of the November election, which was covered extensively by the media, he said.

East Honolulu residents also have now seen two head-to-head battles between Ozawa and Waters that resulted in close outcomes, “so folks understand their votes really might make the difference,” Moore said.

The third factor may be the large sums of money being spent on the election. As of March 29, Waters spent $230,365 while Ozawa listed $191,588 in expenditures. Additionally, union super PAC AiKea Unite Here reported spending $101,668 to support Waters and oppose Ozawa, and since then has reported spending an additional $35,000 to oppose Ozawa. The United Public Workers, AFSCME, Local 646 AFL-CIO, PAC has spent $27,800 spent to support Waters.

During the 2018 election cycle, Ozawa reported spending $530,542 through Nov. 6 while Waters reported spending $205,168 during the same period.

In invalidating the November results, the Hawaii Supreme Court determined that errors made could have altered the final outcome.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision, City Clerk Glen Takahashi’s office has received intense public scrutiny.

In response to questions voters brought to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Takahashi and Election Administrator Rex Quidilla said:

>> All incoming ballot envelopes’ signatures are scanned by a machine that matches them up against signatures the office has on file through a previous registration or absentee ballot form. Only between 50 to 60% of signatures pass that initial test, and those that don’t are reviewed first by an election worker and then a supervisor. Those that are still not verifiable are then contacted by election officials and asked to go to the clerk’s office to show proof. As of end of business Tuesday, 328 signatures were unverifiable. Voter verification questions are greater this time because it’s an all-mail election, and during the normal election process, only those who request absentee ballots receive them.

>> It’s possible a District 4 voter who cast a ballot in 2018 did not get a mail-in vote for this election. If that person moved from one District 4 address to another address in the district and did not provide that information to election officials, it was probably one of 4,881 packets sent back by the U.S. Postal Service to elections as undeliverable. Voters who believe they should have received a ballot should call 768-3800 or go to the clerk’s office.

>> There is no automatic registration. Quidilla said some people might not remember, or conceivably were unaware, that they filled out a voter registration form on the back of their driver licensing application.