Time Zone Differences Affect Voting

The huge time zone difference between Hawai’i and the East Coast (currently 5 hours) is often the subject of mockery by residents. Tonight’s first results will be out around 2:00 PM Hawai’i time, meaning that local polls will be open a good four hours more. This gives plenty of opportunity for group-think voting, as well as allowing the rest of the nation to usually ignore us, since the polls close 11:00 PM EST.

This year, perhaps, the time zone gap is even more significant. With John Kerry and George W. Bush so close in the polls nationwide, it wouldn’t be surprising to me if people were at least a little more interested in the results. (Then again, if pollsters were off and the race isn’t as close as predicted, we’ll be relegated to the usual ho-hum excitement ;)).

Election 2004 Series

Hawai’i Polls Open

Preparing Waileia for Election Day 2004 started early this morning, but I’d like to officially welcome you now to the coverage. Throughout the day, I’ll try to post perspectives about Hawai’i’s election system and battleground debates about once every 90 minutes. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, please leave a comment and I’ll address it in real-time.

Hawai’i polls are about to open. Elections in the Aloha State take place in district parks, public schools and libraries, and even in private venues in some cases. Most facilities are immediately adjacent to a TheBus stop and are ADA-friendly. To accommodate the public polling places, which are usually full of students, Election Day is a state holiday in Hawai’i.

Voters will be able to cast their ballot until at least 6:00 PM, which is the official closing time. Voters in line at that time will be allowed to vote, which means that official returns will be delayed. The first “printout”, which usually consists of all mail-in and walk-in absentee ballots, will be released to the media as soon as the last polling place confirms it is closed. 2-3 more will follow later in the evening.

Election 2004 Series

Don’t Bribe the Voters!

Free food, discounts, and even vacation days may be tempting incentives to get out and vote, but they’re also illegal ways of coercing voters. According to Hawai’i Office of Elections spokesman Rex Quidilla and others, such activities may run afoul of both federal and state laws. “We know these are not malicious attempts to coerce voters, but we do want to be cautious,” said Quidilla.

Relevant laws include HRS ยง19-3, which states in part:

The following persons shall be deemed guilty of an election fraud [emphasis mine]:

Every elector who … directly or indirectly … receives … any money, gift, loan, or valuable consideration … for voting or agreeing to vote;

Similar U.S. laws are on the books, according to the Advertiser.

I don’t know how I feel about this. On one hand, I totally understand the need for laws like this. On the other hand…come on, anybody intuitively knows that these gifts are so small that they’re pretty pathetic bribes.

“If someone was only going to vote because of a cookie … ” said Roberta Rinker-Ludloff, regional vice president of marketing, “I guess that says a lot about these cookies. They’re delicious. Have you tried one?”

Election 2004 Series