Primary Election Day in Hawaii

Election 2018


By Melvin Ah Ching

Primary election day came and went in Hawaii. The usual suspects, perennial candidates and newcomers all made a run for their party’s nomination to high profile government positions in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Governor and Lt. Governor, seats in the Hawaii State Legislature, City Councils and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Elections are the best opportunity for the people of Hawaii (or anywhere else) to vote poorly performing incumbents out of office and give new people a chance to run the government. More often than not, the incumbent candidates usually win, especially in Hawaii.

I went to my precinct polling place and cast my ballot during the lunch hour. The polling place was not very crowded, which meant that it was easy to fill out the poll book, get my ballot and cast my vote.

Almost too easy.

First off, I walked to table A to E to sign the poll book. I told the old woman who was at the table that my last name starts with A. She gave me the book, I flipped through a few pages, found my name and affixed my signature to the space next to it.

She then gave me the red and white “Ballot Secrecy Folder” with my ballot.

I walked to an empty voting booth and once behind the striped curtain, I pulled my ballot out. To my surprise there were two ballots! The woman had given me two ballots.

The brief thought of actually casting two votes per candidate was a bit amusing for just a brief moment. But my honesty and fear of criminal prosecution kicked in. I walked out of the booth and showed the lady my two ballots and gave one of them back to her.

I went back in and spent a few minutes casting my votes, and yes, snapped pictures of my ballot. The photos were taken before I marked the ballot. I forgot to take a picture of the two ballots I briefly had. Darn.

I took a picture after I cast my votes to remember who I voted for years from now.

Regular readers of this blog probably know who I may have voted for, though I have not posted many political things here, nor to the other blog I set up to do just that. Lazy I guess, but lately I’ve too busy to keep up with my own blogs when I have other priorities.

I voted, walked out of the booth and over to the place where the machine collected the ballot. I gently nudged the ballot into the slot of the machine and like a photocopier, it slid in with no problem. The small LED screen indicated my ballot was proper and a small American flag showed up to confirm my vote.

Having worked once as a poll observer at an election several years ago, I know that when the paper ballots slide into the machine, votes are counted by the reader built in to it. The black marks made on the ballot are optically scanned and registered to a flash card mounted inside the machine. At the end of the voting day, the cards and ballots are picked up and taken back to the State Capitol for processing and counting.

I don’t think anyone counts the actual paper ballots though they are collected and put into safe boxes for transport back to the State Capitol Counting Center and later to the State Elections Office somewhere in Pearl City for storage.

I can imagine a gigantic warehouse full of old ballots that were kept from past elections that probably looks like the place where the Ark of the Covenant was stored at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie. I wonder if they keep all of the old paper ballots and for how long.

I got my voter confirmation slip. The deed was done.


The slip was handed to me by a guy who was monitoring the machine near the exit doorway. Off in a corner was one electronic voting machine which no one was using.

As I left my polling place one observation came to mind.

I was not asked to show an I.D. when I first signed the book. Did the lady at the table forget to ask me to show my I.D.? I know in the past, I had to show my I.D. before I signed the book and got a ballot.

The State of Hawaii does require voters to show an I.D.

So the question is how many people were allowed to vote without an I.D.?

Then there is that two ballot thing. How often does this occur? You know in past elections, I do recall that there were two people sitting at the sign in table. One person got you to sign the book, checked your I.D. and another person on the same table handed you the ballot in the folder.

Why the change I wonder? Did the Office of Elections not have enough workers to cover the election? Are officials from the various parties monitoring the election at each precinct?

Despite those concerns, we can generally rest assured that the process went smoothly after the polls closed.

The process will be repeated all over again for the November 6 General Election.

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SBA Tops $25 Million in Disaster Assistance Loans

The Hawaii Files Volcano Watch

U.S. Small Business Administration Logo


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Director Tanya N. Garfield of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West announced today that SBA has approved more than $25 million in federal disaster loans for Hawaii businesses and residents impacted by the Kilauea volcanic eruption and earthquakes that began May 3, 2018. According to Garfield, SBA has approved $6,532,800 for businesses and $18,476,600 for residents to help rebuild and recover from this disaster.

“SBA’s disaster assistance employees are committed to helping businesses and residents rebuild as quickly as possible,” said Garfield. Businesses and residents who sustained damages are encouraged to register prior to the Aug. 13, 2018, deadline with the Federal Emergency Management Agency at “Don’t miss out on any assistance you may be entitled to by not registering for help. You don’t need to wait for your insurance to settle or obtain a contractor’s estimate,” she added.

SBA continues to provide one-on-one assistance to business owners and individuals at the following location on the days and times indicated. No appointment is necessary.

Disaster Recovery Center (DRC)
Pahoa Neighborhood Facility, Meeting Room #3
15-3022 Kauhale St.
Pahoa, HI 96778

Mondays – Fridays, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Saturdays, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The SBA can also lend additional funds to help business and residents with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations of all sizes, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace their damaged or destroyed primary residence. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

These low-interest federal disaster loans are available in Hawaii County.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at

Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The deadline to apply for property damage is Aug. 13, 2018. The deadline to apply for economic injury is March 14, 2019.

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June 24 – Volcano Eruption Update

The Hawaii Files Volcano Watch
Fissure 8 - Pu'u Leilani
Fissure 8 continues to fountain and spew its miles long river of lava that empties out in the ocean. The eruption is entering its eighth week.

It’s been a while since I last did a volcano update. Nothing much has changed as the Kilauea eruption goes. It is nearly eight weeks since eruptive activity started in Leilani Estates.

Fountaining and lava continues at the East Rift Zone with Fissure 8 (Pu’u Leilani — my unofficial name) building its cinder cone and sending lava downslope to Kapoho. All of the Vacationland subdivision and several others have been completely wiped. Lava has filled in the old bay with a new 300+ delta building up in its place. The lava flow continues at a steady level.

At the summit, Halemaumau crater continues to deepen and expand as its sides have fallen into the caldera.

The latest updates on Kilauea volcano’s eruption status can be found at the USGS website. Hawaii County Civil Defense continues to issue daily bulletins to keep the community informed.

Homelessness, relocation, and federal financial relief are some of the issues that former residents of the area are dealing with.

Mauna Loa
Mauna Loa volcano looms over Hilo town.

On another note the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has reduced the threat level of 13,680 foot high Mauna Loa volcano from “Advisory” (yellow) level to “Normal” (Green). The normalization of Mauna Loa’s status is attributed to seismic levels are “no longer at an elevated level of activity.” A reduced rate of earthquakes over the last six months are one of the factors contributing to the normalization.

Mauna Loa last erupted for 22 days in 1984 sending a lava flow to within 4 miles above Hilo town. Eruptions of Mauna Loa tend to produce much more lava than Kilauea and can impact many communities to the northeast, east, south and southwest of the volcano.

Continue reading “June 24 – Volcano Eruption Update”

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A Different Way To Sell Tickets

Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars is coming home for two Hawaii concert shows.

Grammy award winning pop singer Bruno Mars will be featured in two concerts in Hawaii this coming November 10 and 11 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. The November 10 show is sold out and tickets for the November 11 show go on sale tomorrow (Saturday, June 16) morning at the Aloha Stadium box office and online.

Many people who waited in line at the stadium to buy their tickets or tried at home to get them through the internet were met with frustration and disappointment. Bruno Mars tickets were sold out before the end of the day. People waiting in line were turned away after a certain point, and countless others who tried to buy online were frustrated to learn that “bot” programs bought many tickets for resale at higher prices by third parties.

It seems the same thing will probably happen when tickets for the second show go on sale tomorrow. The line at the stadium was stopped shortly after 9:30 a.m. today. Those lucky enough to beat the cutoff at the stadium are waiting another night for when the box office opens tomorrow. Good luck.

Similarly those wanting to buy online will probably face the same problems they did last week.

Surely many tickets were sold for the 36,000 or so lucky ones last week. But the popularity of the local born singer has made demand for the second show tickets extremely high.

A possible solution.

What should be done to assure that tickets are sold only to the fans (mostly local residents) and not to commercials entities via bots?

My solution would be to allow people to come to the stadium, sit in the seats and have ticket sellers authorized by the stadium and concert promoter to meet every single person seated in the stadium and take their ticket orders with an iPad or other tablet device tied into the payment system and master seat map for the performance being sold.

Curtail all online sales until the people who are at the stadium buy their tickets. Whatever is leftover can be sold online… or as they probably do now, just lop X amount of seats on the side for online sales only. Indicate the online sale allotment in pre-sale information.

If the maximum amount of tickets any one person can buy is 2 or 4, then round down the 36,000 seat number to 16,000 live in person Aloha Stadium ticket buyers. Hire ticket sales agents to take ticket orders iPads and send an e-ticket people’s smart phone and/or email address with a back-up in the cloud just in case. Task done.

While the ticket buying crowd is seated inside Aloha Stadium for the ticket agents to come around, the promoter could use the opportunity to showcase local bands, sell food or something. Make the ticket buying day an enjoyable event.

Surely there are logistical issues to be worked out such as parking, security, sanitation, hiring enough ticket agents and setting rules,  priorities and policies on the actual implementation of the process. It is also possible that this idea may not be feasible at all.

What do you think? Surly this suggestion is only a rough idea, but if planned well it could be possible for the next big show.

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