Maui County voter turnout lowest in state
Maui County had the lowest primary election voter turnout in the state Saturday, with only 32.2 percent of the county’s 85,581 registered voters casting ballots in person or by absentee.
Statewide, voter turnout was at 41.4 percent. Kauai County had the highest voter turnout at 47 percent, followed by the City and County of Honolulu at 43.4 percent and Hawaii County at 37.6 percent.
In Maui County, more people (15,432, or 18 percent) voted absentee than those who showed up at polls on election day (12,105, or 14.1 percent). The numbers show what election workers observed anecdotally Saturday.
Saturday’s voter turnout for Maui County was not its lowest. It ranks as the fifth lowest since statehood in 1959. The county’s record low turnout came in 2008 when only 25.6 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. Other low turnouts came in 2004, 26.9 percent; 2012, 30.6 percent; and 2000, 30.8 percent. These were all for primary elections.
While most voters stayed home or had other use for their time than going to polls Saturday, the minority that did vote favored incumbents heavily.
One exception came in the race for the Maui County Council’s Makawao-Haiku-Paia residency seat. Incumbent Mike White finished second with 9,815 votes, or 35.7 percent, in a four-way race to former Council Member Mike Molina, who came out on top with 11,125 votes, or 40.4 percent.
As the top two finishers, Molina and White advance to the Nov. 4 general election.
Not going forward in that race are Henry Kahula Jr., who had 2,106 votes, or 7.7 percent; and Alex Haller, who received 826 ballots, or 3 percent.
A precinct-by-precinct breakdown of Maui County’s 34 precincts shows that Molina took 23 precincts to White’s 11.
Molina swept the Central Maui 8th and 9th House Districts, winning, for example, the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center precinct in Wailuku by 231votes (548 to 317) and the Maui High School precinct by 219 votes (449 to 230). The former five-term council member also took the Haiku Community Center precinct by 208 votes (746 to 538).
White’s biggest margin of victory was 249 votes at the Lahaina Civic Center (481 to 232). The incumbent also came out ahead by 100 or more votes at Kamalii Elementary School in Kihei (a 146-vote advantage, 481 to 335), Princess Nahienaena Elementary School in Lahaina (a 116-vote advantage, 250 to 134), Lahaina Intermediate School (a 113-vote advantage, 266 to 153) and at King Kamehameha III Elementary School in Lahaina (a 100-vote advantage, 191 to 91).
But those West and South Maui wins for White were not enough to offset Molina’s victories elsewhere.
Molina also had 100-plus winning margins at Maui Waena Intermediate School in Kahului (a 182-vote advantage, 655 to 473), Lihikai Elementary School in Kahului (a 167-vote advantage, 446 to 279), Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani (a 165-vote advantage, 609 to 444), Kahului Elementary School (a 161-vote advantage, 651 to 490), Maui Economic Opportunity Inc. in Wailuku (a 104-vote advantage, 230 to 126) and at Waihee Elementary School (a 102-vote advantage, 311 to 209).
Statewide precinct results can be found at hawaii.gov/elections/results/2014/primary/elections/results/2014/primary/files/precinct.pdf.
* Brian Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.