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Tuesday, July 3, 2018
ACLU Demands Pahoa Voters be Allowed to Register and Vote in Person on Election Day
By News Release @ 5:28 PM :: 5128 Views :: Hawaii County , Office of Elections

UPDATE -- Nago Reverses: Opens Pahoa Polling Place for Lava Evacuees

Proclamation from Office of Elections, July 7, 2018:

…the Chief Election Officer and the Hawaiʻi County Clerk hereby determine that a dual polling place will be operated at Pahoa Community Center on the day of the Primary Election, to allow voters in District Precincts 04-03 and 04-04, who have not already voted by absentee mail ballot or at an absentee polling place, to vote.  A person who is eligible to vote but is not registered to vote may register by appearing in person, on the day of the election, at the polling place in the precinct associated with the person’s residence.  HRS § 11-15.2.  As such, those whose residence is in District Precinct 04-03 or 04-04 will be eligible to register to vote and vote in person on election day at the Pahoa Community Center, Pahoa, Hawaiʻi….

read … Proclamation

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ACLU of Hawai‘i thanks elections officials: proclamation lets Hawai‘i Island voters register and vote in person on election day

News Release from ACLU HAWAII, JULY 6, 2018

The State Chief Elections Officer and the Hawai’i County Clerk have responded to a demand letter from the ACLU of Hawai’i. That letter expressed concerns about the constitutionality of the Office of Elections’ original voting plan for precincts 4-03 and 4-04, which did not allow for in-person voting and registration on election day. Both of these precincts have been affected by the ongoing volcanic eruptions.

In a new proclamation dated July 6, 2018, the Office of Elections and the Hawai’i County Clerk’s Office announced they will now open the Pahoa Community Center as a walk-in polling place for area residents to vote and register on the primary election day, August 11, 2018 (see

Executive Director Joshua Wisch said: “The ACLU of Hawai‘i extends our sincere thanks to Chief Election Officer Scott Nago and Hawai’i County Clerk Stewart Maeda for the new proclamation issued today. As a direct result of their decision, taken in coordination with County of Hawai’i Civil Defense, Hawai’i Island residents who have been affected by the volcanic activity will now be able to fully exercise their right to vote. These voters will be able to benefit from same-day registration and be able to vote in person on election day. This is a great development for the voters of Hawai‘i Island. We applaud these officials and their teams for making it happen and are pleased to help spread the word.”

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ACLU Demands State Office of Elections Allow Pahoa Voters to Register and Vote in Person on Election Day

News Release from ACLU Hawaii, July 2, 2018

HONOLULU: The ACLU of Hawai‘i Foundation (ACLU of Hawai’i) issued a demand letter on Friday to the Hawai‘i Office of Elections. The letter, written by ACLU of Hawai’i Legal Director, Mateo Caballero, vows swift legal action if the “severe burden on the right to vote” imposed by the Office of Elections’ current voting plans for areas of Hawai‘i Island affected by the eruption of Kilauea Volcano are not fixed. As noted in the ACLU of Hawai’i demand letter, a “refusal to allow in-person registration and voting on election day would not only be arbitrary and unnecessary but would also not survive constitutional muster.”

Executive Director Joshua Wisch said: “Hundreds of families in Leilani Estates, Pahoa, Kapoho and surrounding areas have lost their homes. But the Office of Elections is only planning to let these people vote by absentee ballot– ballots that will likely be sent to the same homes that have either been destroyed by lava or are uninhabitable due to volcanic activity. The Office of Elections must provide a polling place for these folks to register and vote in person on election day, as provided by law.”

In 2014, Hurricane Iselle struck on the eve of the primary, impacting the people of Pahoa. In its aftermath, voters had to contend with shifting direction from the Office of Elections about where and how to vote. These same precincts saw some of the lowest turnout ever, even as the ACLU was in touch with residents who wanted to vote but did not know how. The ACLU of Hawai‘i asked the Hawai‘i Supreme Court to hold primary election results so that these districts could property vote, but the Supreme Court denied this request without reaching the merits of the complaint. Later efforts to get the legislature to require better disaster response from the Office of Elections to protect the vote failed.

Legal Director Mateo Caballero said: “The right to vote is fundamental. We ask anyone who thinks their voting rights may be affected to contact our office and let us know.”

The ACLU of Hawai‘i has given the Office of Elections until July 6th to respond to the demand letter.


UPDATE July 6, 2018: State ‘confident’ it will open Pahoa polling place

Read the demand letter: 6.29.18 – ACLU Demand Letter re primary election 

June 8, 2018:  Nago Closes Puna Polling Places—Absentee-Only for Lava Zone 

June 25, 2018: Election Officials Mail Absentee Ballots to Voters Affected by Lava 


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