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.

Please follow and like us:

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.

Please follow and like us:

Volcano Video Spotlight: Andrew Hara

The Hawaii Files Volcano Watch

Andrew Hara on Vimeo

20180531 @ 15:30 – 20:00 HST Leilani Estates – Fissure 8 and surrounding area from Andrew Richard Hara on Vimeo.

Today we start a new series highlighting selected videos or video producers as the Kilauea eruption at Leilani Estates moves into its second month starting tomorrow, June 3.

The video above shows eruptive action from Fissure 8, which I am calling (unofficially) Pu’u Leilani. The fissure is building up a sizable cinder cone in the area. If it continues for a long time and the cone grows larger, it could rival that of the now dormant Pu’u O’o more than 13 miles away to the west.

Andrew Richard Hara is a professional photographer who has captured many images of the dynamic beauty and the distressing images that tell the story of the Kilauea eruption in lower Puna. He maintains a Vimeo channel, a website with is own domain and is active on Facebook. Many of his images have been licensed to various organizations.


Please follow and like us:

Hurricane Season Started Today

Hurricanes Iselle and Julio

For most of Hawaii, the impact from the Kilauea volcano eruption is minimal at best with vog and ash being the wider problem on the Big Island over the destructive lava flows in the localized area of lower Puna.

What can be a statewide problem is a major hurricane. Hawaii enters hurricane season starting today. It is highly advisable to get your disaster preparedness kit assembled or renewed before the state is hit with a large hurricane.

From the National Weather Service comes this article:

Hurricane Season Starts Today

June 1, 2018. | PRESS RELEASE

NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center  announced there is an 80-percent chance of near- or above-normal tropical cyclone activity during the central Pacific hurricane season this year.

The 2018 outlook indicates equal chances of an above-normal and near-normal season at 40 percent each, and a 20-percent chance of a below-normal season.

For the season as a whole, three to six tropical cyclones are predicted for the central Pacific hurricane basin. This number includes tropical depressions, named storms and hurricanes. A near-normal season has three to five tropical cyclones, and an above-normal season has six or more tropical cyclones.

“This outlook reflects the forecast for ENSO neutral conditions, with a possible transition to a weak El Nino during the hurricane season. Also, ocean temperatures in the main hurricane formation region are expected to remain above-average, and vertical wind shear is predicted to be near- or weaker-than-average,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. Bell added, “If El Nino develops, the activity could be near the higher end of the predicted range.”

El Nino decreases the vertical wind shear over the tropical central Pacific, which favors more and stronger tropical cyclones. El Nino also favors more westward-tracking storms from the eastern Pacific into the central Pacific.

This outlook is a general guide to the overall seasonal hurricane activity in the central Pacific basin and does not predict whether or how many of these systems will affect Hawaii. The hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30.

“It is very important to remember that it only takes one landfalling tropical cyclone to bring major impacts to the State of Hawaii,” said Chris Brenchley, director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “As we begin this 2018 hurricane season, we advise all residents to make preparations now, by having and practicing an emergency plan and by having 14 days of emergency supplies on hand that will be needed if a hurricane strikes.”

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center continuously monitors weather conditions, employing a network of satellites, land- and ocean-based sensors, and aircraft reconnaissance missions operated by NOAA and its partners. This array of data supplies the information for complex computer modeling and human expertise, which are the basis for the center’s storm track and intensity forecasts that extend out five days.

Check the Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s website throughout the season to stay on top of any watches and warnings, and visit FEMA’s for additional hurricane preparedness tips.

The seasonal hurricane outlook is produced in collaboration with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.


Please follow and like us: