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DeCoite Narrowly Beats Ritte, Pending Recount

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

If you ever thought your vote didn’t count, Saturday’s primary election showed differently. Just 91 votes between Molokai’s incumbent District 13 Representative Lynn DeCoite and fellow Molokai resident and challenger Walter Ritte, as of press deadline Sunday. A mandatory recount was conducted Monday evening.

“In the past, candidates would have to file with the court to request a recount if they’re close,” said Maui County Clerk Kathy Kaohu. But she explained part of new mail-in voting laws call for an automatic recount of results that come within 100 votes or one quarter or one percent of the total number of votes cast, whichever is greater.

Kaohu said the recount was scheduled to take place Monday at 5 p.m. due to staffing and use of county facilities for other uses earlier in the day.

DeCoite garnered 3,243 votes, or 48.2 percent, statewide, while Ritte received 3,152 votes, or 46.9 percent. At the first printout of results Saturday evening, DeCoite led by 104 votes. The margin narrowed by the second printout at 10 p.m., with only 29 votes separating the two candi-dates. Final results weren’t released until around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, with a delay in collecting some of the ballots from Hana late Saturday night.

DeCoite came out ahead of Ritte in each of Molokai’s five precincts, with Ritte garnering a lot of support on Maui.

“Well it was a long night and Molokai has spoken, congratulations to Lynn DeCoite,” wrote Ritte on social media Sunday. “It is never easy to lose, except when you know that you gave it your all and that you have made so many new partners and close friends…. These are exceptionally difficult times and it will take all of us working hard together to protect our aina, and to make a better life for our future generations.”

“A heartfelt mahalo to the voters of District 13! This election showed that every vote counts and that everyone has a voice!” posted DeCoite Sunday. “Mahalo to all of the candidates who put themselves out there.”

The Democratic winner of the District 13 representative seat in the primary election will appear on the Nov. 3 general election against Republican Robin Vanderpool, who earned 304 votes, or 38.3 percent, as well as Theresa Kapaku running under the Aloha Aina party, who received 83 votes, or 79 percent.

Another close race of Molokai residents was for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Molokai Trustee seat. Longtime incumbent Colette Machado was challenged by businesswoman Luana Alapa and homesteader U’i Kahue-Cabanting.

Statewide, Alapa won with 76,573 votes or 18.8 percent over Machado with 69,115 votes at 17 percent and Kahue-Cabanting with 35,261 votes at 8.7 percent. However, Molokai residents fa-vored Machado in every precinct.

Alapa and Machado will both appear on the general election ballot.

For complete results, visit elections.hawaii.gov/election-results/.

Across the state, voters participated in Hawaii’s first all mail-in ballot election in record numbers, and Molokai also saw a huge jump in participation.

In the 2018 primary, Kilohana precinct had 250 voters casting their ballots or 16.8 percent
turnout of total registered voters. This year, 370 residents voted, or 53.5 percent of registered voters mailed in their ballots. In 2018, Kaunakakai precinct had 833 ballots cast with 14.2 per-cent turnout of registered voters; this year 1,064 voters participated in the election, or 50.2 per-cent. Maunaloa had 98 ballots cast, which accounted for 11.9 percent of active registered
voters in 2018; in 2020, 180 residents voted, or 42.6 percent. In 2018, Kualapu’u had 507 ballots resulting in a 15.7 percent turnout; this year, that increased to 674, or 52.5 percent.
Kalaupapa had 19 ballots cast in 2018, and this year, 17 ballots were counted, or 48.6 percent.

The total number of Molokai voters casting their ballots in the 2018 primary election was 1707, and that number increased to 2,305.

While the vast majority of voters mailed in their ballots this year, a total of 104 Molokai residents still cast their vote in person by utilizing their Voting Service Center at Mitchell Pauole Center.

The general election on Nov. 3 will also be held by mail, and ballots will be sent out to voters on Oct. 16. To register to vote in the general election or get more information, visit elec-tions.hawaii.gov.

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