Processing Voted Ballots
Q: How does the state keep my political party affiliation a secret?
A: Based on the Hawaii State Constitution, your political party affiliation is not part of your voter registration. If voters wish to enroll with a political party, they do so through the individual party, which is not managed by the state. Political party affiliation is not required to vote in the state primary or general elections, but it may be required to participate in party-run presidential primaries.
Q: Can someone cancel my voter registration without my knowledge?
A: To cancel a voter’s registration, an “Affidavit for Cancellation of Voter Record” must be signed and submitted to the County Elections Division by the voter. The only way someone can cancel another person’s voter registration is if that person is deceased, which also requires a signed affidavit. Submitting a false affidavit can result in a Class C Felony.
Q: If I didn’t vote in the last election will my voter registration be canceled?
A: Whether you participate in the elections or not, your registration will not be canceled, as long as it remains up to date, pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. If you are found to have a questionable address or if we are notified that you have moved out of state, we will mail you a card to request you update your registration. Only after you have been notified to update your registration and have not done so for two consecutive election cycles, would your record be removed from the database. This is in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act.
Q: Can political parties remove registered voters from the statewide database?
A: Only State and County Election Officials have access to the statewide voter registration database. Political parties and candidates may request voter information, but they do not have direct access to this database.
Q: How do I know if my ballot was mailed to me, or if it was received by the county?
A: You can track your ballot online via our ballot receipt portal by logging in with your Hawaii Driver License or State ID. This portal will tell you when your ballot was mailed and when it is received by the county.
Q: What if my ballot was stolen from my mailbox?
A: Mail tampering is a federal crime. If you believe your ballot was stolen, contact your County Elections Division to check the status of your ballot and to request a replacement ballot. Additionally, you may vote in-person at a voter service center.
Q: What do I do if I received a ballot that’s not addressed to me?
A: Filling out someone else’s ballot is voter fraud which can result in a Class C Felony. If you receive a ballot for someone that does not reside at your address, write “not at this address” on it and place it back in the mail.
Q: Can someone else send in my ballot for me?
A: All ballots come with a postage-paid return envelope and can be placed back in your mailbox for pickup by the postal service. They can also be dropped off at a voter service center or drop box. If you are unable to return your ballot due to a disability or illness, you may designate someone to pick up and deliver your ballot. Ensure your ballot return envelope is sealed and signed before returning.
Q: If someone votes in person at a voter service center, how do you know they didn’t already send in a mail ballot and are voting twice?
A: Each ballot contains a barcode that is unique to the voter, which prevents a voter from voting more than once. If a voter’s mail ballot was already received and scanned, they would not be allowed to vote in-person if they went to a voter service center. Likewise, if someone votes in-person at a voter service center, their mail ballot will be canceled.
Q: How do you know if my ballot was completed and submitted by me?
A: As ballots are received, the signature on the outside of your return envelope is scanned by County Election Officials. This signature is then matched to the signature on file in your voter registration record. If it matches, your ballot is validated and forwarded to be counted.
Q: What happens if someone signs a ballot return envelope that isn’t theirs?
A: Signing someone else’s return envelope is voter fraud, which can result in a Class C Felony. Any signature that does not match and is not confirmed by the voter may indicate voter fraud and would be escalated to the proper authorities. Additionally, voters can report incidents of possible voter fraud for investigation by a law enforcement agency.
Q: Do you count ballots that aren’t signed?
A: If a ballot return envelope is received and is missing a signature, County Election Officials will contact the voter to obtain the missing signature. Voters will have until 5 business days after the election to provide their signature if it is missing. Ballots that still do not have signatures by this date are not counted.
Processing Voted Ballots
Q: How do you maintain the secrecy of my vote if my name and signature is on the envelope that contains my ballot?
A: Ballots are opened in a multi-step process to ensure the secrecy of votes. First, return envelopes are opened and ballot secrecy sleeves are pulled out of the envelopes. The ballot secrecy sleeves are accumulated and separated from the envelopes. Once all the envelopes have been opened, they are removed from the work area. Next, ballots are removed from the ballot secrecy sleeves and accumulated for processing. Ballots and the secrecy sleeves do not have any personal identifying information on them and, as they are separated from the return envelopes, there is no way for a voter’s identity to be connected to a specific ballot.
Q: How do you ensure election officials don’t throw away ballots?
A: Ballots are always transported and processed in the presence of Official Observers. Official Observers serve as the “eyes and ears” of the public and monitor that election officials are maintaining the security and integrity of the elections. Additionally, the number of ballots received and counted are reconciled at the end of each day to ensure there are no discrepancies.
Q: How do you tally the results and how do you determine that the results are accurate?
A: Before each election, all of the voting equipment used to count ballots and tabulate the results are tested by election officials and Official Observers. The equipment’s accuracy is verified by checking against hand-counts and it is secured with tamper evident seals. Additionally, the first batch of counted ballots is audited by hand-counting to again verify that the equipment is operating properly. After the election, another audit is conducted using a random sample of at least 10% of precincts.
Q: Is the voting equipment secure? Can it be hacked?
A: Before each election, all of the voting equipment used at voter service centers for in person voting is tested by election officials and Official Observers. The equipment’s accuracy is verified by checking against hand-counts and it is secured with tamper evident seals. This equipment is not connected to the internet.