WAILUKU - Walk-in absentee voting begins Monday, another sign that primary/first special election day is just around the corner.
The total number of registered voters for the Sept. 20 election is 82,422, according to Maui County Clerk Roy Hiraga.
That's 2,649, or 3.3 percent, more than the 79,773 who registered for the primary election in 2006. Both voter registration figures represent increases over 75,096 voters in 2004, 77,946 in 2002, 72,177 in 2000 and 64,333 in 1998.
County Elections Division staffer Joann Gogue looks over the E-scan machine being set up Friday for the start of walk-in early voting at Office of the County Clerk on the seventh floor of Kalana O Maui in Wailuku. Walk-in voting sites will open Monday in Wailuku, Lahaina and Kaunakakai.
The Maui News / AMANDA COWAN photo
Hiraga said the greater voter interest this year could be tied to interest in February's Democratic presidential caucus in Hawaii when Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton were still locked in a tight race for the party's nomination.
But Hiraga pointed out that voter registration numbers go up a bit every year, and 2006 saw a large increase in Maui County, possibly because of the Democratic primary race between Sen. Daniel Akaka and then-Rep. Ed Case.
Hiraga said the demand for absentee ballots, which could be requested as early as July 22, is about normal. It's also typical that, around this time in the election season, not too many absentee ballots have been returned, he said. Usually, the bulk of mail absentee ballots are returned in the two weeks before primary election day.
Mail-in absentee voting ballots must be received by the County Clerk's Office by election day. Mail ballots can be requested up to Sept. 13.
Walk-in absentee voting is available at three locations in Maui County. The locations and hours are:
= Office of the County Clerk, seventh floor of the Kalana O Maui Building, Wailuku; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
= Lahaina Civic Center; 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
= Mitchell Pauole Center, Kaunakakai; 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Sept. 18 is the last day for walk-in absentee voting, with voting to end at 3 p.m. at the Lahaina and Kaunakakai polling sites.
Elections officials remind voters that they must have a photo ID to be eligible to vote at the absentee sites or at polling places on election day.
For more information, contact the Maui County Clerk's Office at 270-7749 or go to the state Office of Elections Web site at hawaii.gov/elections. The e-mail address is email@example.com.