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Sunday, November 29, 2015
Vote-by-Mail: Old-Boy Trick to Disenfranchise Independent Voters?
By Andrew Walden @ 9:43 PM :: 3603 Views :: Labor, Office of Elections, GMOs

by Andrew Walden

With the 2016 legislative session fast approaching, the push is on again for Hawaii to adopt a mandatory vote-by-mail election system. 

Recently in the news:

Unmentioned in the testimony, editorials, and coverage is the clear difference between Hawaii absentee voters and Hawaii Election Day voters. 

In the 2014 Primary and General Elections, a pattern showed itself in race after race: Absentee voters voted strongly pro-GMO, Election Day voters voted anti-GMO. 

Logically, any move to shut down Hawaii polling places and force voters into a 100% vote-by-mail system would favor the voters who already vote by mail and disfavor the voters who prefer to vote on Election Day.

This isn’t just about GMOs.  The discrepancy between vote-by-mail and Election Day voting on GMO-related issues likely reflects a predominance of ‘organized’ voting blocs such as unions in the absentee electorate.  In contrast, Election Day voters are more likely to be un-organized—that is, ‘independent’. 

With ‘Aloha Aina’ protesters setting up electoral challenges to entrenched ‘old-boy’ Democrat incumbents, will Legislators advance a vote-by mail bill in order to give themselves an electoral advantage?

The numbers tell the story.

The November, 2014 Maui Anti-GMO initiative—opposed by organized voting blocs--would have been defeated by 19.1% if only absentee ballots were counted.  This is a pattern which held in race after race statewide:

November, 2014 General Election First Read (absentee ballots only)

  • YES 7,655 --39.3% (anti-GMO position)
  • NO 11,370 --58.4% (pro-GMO position)
  • Total Absentee Ballots: 19,467

November, 2014—Counting only ballots cast on Election Day:

  • YES 15,427 --58.2% (anti-GMO position)
  • NO 10,635 --40.1% (pro-GMO position)
  • Total Election Day Ballots 26,516

Absentee Advantage:

  • YES –18.9% (anti-GMO position)
  • NO +18.3% (pro-GMO position) 
  • TOTAL SWING: 37.2%

November, 2014 General Election Final (combined absentee and Election Day voters):

  • YES 23,082 --50.2% (anti-GMO position)
  • NO 22,005 --47.9% (pro-GMO position)
  • Total Ballots:  45,983

The same pattern holds in the 2014 Primary election on Kauai.  Mayoral candidate and Anti-GMO Activist Dustin Barca was rejected by Kauai voters, but the rejection came most strongly from organized absentee mail-in voters:

August, 2014 Kauai Mayoral Primary First Read (absentee ballots only):

  • CARVALHO, Bernard P., Jr. 6,606 --61.4%
  • BARCA, Dustin 2,726 --25.3%
  • Total absentee ballots: 10,764

August, 2014—Counting only ballots cast on Election Day:

  • CARVALHO, Bernard P., Jr. 4,545 --52.8%
  • BARCA, Dustin 3,231 --37.6%
  • Total Election Day ballots: 8,602

Absentee Advantage:

  • CARVALHO, Bernard P., Jr.  + 8.6%
  • BARCA, Dustin  - 12.3%
  • TOTAL SWING: 20.9%

August, 2014 Primary Final (combined absentee and Election Day voters):

  • CARVALHO, Bernard P., Jr. 11,151 --57.6%
  • BARCA, Dustin 5,957 --30.8%
  • Total Ballots: 19,366

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