Mayor runoff unchanged in 3rd Honolulu tally; Oahu snags top spot for turnout

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Update 11:50 a.m. 8/9: Rick Blangiardi and Keith Amemiya remain the front-runners for Honolulu mayor, heading to a November runoff, following the third printout of Honolulu primary vote results released midday Sunday. The third wave of results added 18,767 votes, consisting of mail and drop-box ballots received later Saturday in time for the 7 p.m. primary deadline.

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Calvin Say won just enough votes as of the third printout to retain the 50-percent-plus-one margin he had held in the first and second wave of results, a share that would win him the Honolulu City Council District V seat without having to go on to the general election in November.

Rep. Scott Saiki, state House speaker, holds a slim margin of just 162 votes over Democratic Party challenger Kim Coco Iwamoto in the District 26 race. There is no Republican challenger running.

Rep. Tom Brower is trailing Democratic Party challenger Adrian Tam in the District 22 race. Brower is behind by 142 votes.

The close margins could leave a handful of races hanging in the balance for days. As of Saturday there were 1,236 Oahu ballots still pending signature verification county-wide, 567 on the Big Island, 180 on Kauai and an untabulated number on Maui. A new law allows up to 5 days after the election for voters to verify identities for ballots with mismatched or missing signatures.

The neighbor islands’ third-printout results had come in overnight and added about 7,500 more votes to the statewide total.

After Honolulu’s third printout, Oahu bumped the Big Island from the top spot for voter turnout; Hawaii County had held the lead in early tallies. Honolulu County turnout was 52.39 percent as of the third results, Big Island 53.25 percent, Kauai 49.64 percent and Maui 42.66 percent.

Statewide voter turnout hit 51.5 percent, topping 1998’s 50 percent primary turnout and coming in just shy of 1996’s 51.8 percent. But the 2020 primary smashed records when measured by vote volume, with 406,425 ballots cast so far, a number never before seen in a Hawaii primary. There are 795,248 registered voters in Hawaii. County clerks sent ballots to just over 700,000 active voters; inactive registrants — nonvoters for several cycles or those with undeliverable mail — were not sent ballots.

Original story posted 11:57 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8:

Honolulu to add 17,000-18,000 ballots to overnight tally

Honolulu election officials took in between 17,000 and 18,000 additional ballots Saturday from the final incoming mail and last drop-box pickups, as of the close of the primary vote deadline at 7 p.m. Saturday. This is according to the state Office of Elections, which informed KHON2 of the expected add-on tally around 11:40 p.m. Saturday. (Update: as of 11:21 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, the Office of Elections said the results should be posted within the hour, so expect to see a tally around noon Sunday.)

It’s a large last-day vote haul for a county that has seen an average 13,000 ballots arrive per day during the course of the all-mail election that ended Saturday. The daily range over a couple weeks of mailed votes was a low of 8,904 on July 23 and a high of 30,488 on Aug. 5. But the final-day haul is not expected to change the course of major countywide races.

Earlier Saturday evening, the state had estimated there were 800 Oahu mail and 5,000 Oahu dropbox ballots expected to be added into the overnight tally, which will constitute the third printout, based on indications at that time from the Honolulu county clerk. The first printout of results came at 7 p.m. with 368,200 votes counted statewide, and the second printout at 10 p.m counted 380,152 votes statewide.

The addition of up to 18,000 ballots on Oahu, plus a few thousand more expected from the neighbor island counties, brings the estimated voter turnout to around 400,000. That means the 7 p.m. results represented above 90 percent of votes cast, and the 10 p.m. results comprised about 95 percent of votes cast.

Top Oahu races including Honolulu mayor and Honolulu prosecutor are heading for November runoffs between the first- and second-place primary finishers. The top three vote-getters in each race held similar percentages in both the 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. reports. For mayor, Rick Blangiardi led with more than 25 percent of the vote in both printouts and a nearly 13,000-vote lead at 10 o’clock. Keith Amemiya was second with more than 20 percent in each of the first two reports and a more than 5,000-vote lead over third-place challenger Colleen Hanabusa, who won more than 18 percent of votes in both printouts.

For prosecutor, Steve Alm led with more than 35 percent of the vote in both the 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. reports and a 37,000-vote lead over second-place Megan Kau, who won nearly 21 percent of votes in each of the first two results batches. Jacquie Esser came in third with more than 16 percent in both printouts and an 11,000-vote gap between her and Kau.

Several district-level and council races, however, could see overnight swaps on the leaderboards. And nearly 2,000 more votes statewide are in limbo with mismatched or missing signatures, with up to five days after the election allowed for identity verification before final vote counting and race certification.