Molokai Votes by Mail
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Registered voters on Molokai have now received their ballots in their mailboxes, launching a new statewide system of mail-in-only voting. Previously, only one community in the state — on Molokai — had voted solely by mail.
“The year 2000 was the first election year any community went with Elections by mail, Kalaupapa was that first community to go to an all mail election system in the State of Hawaii, and resulted in showing the State that it is a doable system, and showed stats with high percentage rates of “voter turnout,” said Kathy Kaohu, County Clerk for Maui County, whose office is overseeing Elections.
She hopes Molokai will follow suite this year, though in the past two elections, Molokai voters have lagged in turnout.
In 2016, statewide voter turnout was about 58 percent of registered voters, whereas Molokai saw about 27 percent. Two years later, 52 percent of registered voters cast their ballots statewide, while Molokai had a turnout rate of 24 percent, according to Kaohu. But she has high hopes for that changing with this year’s mail-in system.
“I envision Molokai leading by example and showing Maui Nui what a high voter turnout looks like! You’re still a small enough community to pull it off,” said Kaohu.
To cast your ballot in the Primary Election, you must first select a political party and select candidates only within your chosen party to nominate the candidates who will represent each party in the General Election.
Molokai voters will see a host of familiar names, as this year’s ballot is loaded with Molokai residents running for office.
In the District 13 Representative race, Democratic Molokai’s incumbent Lynn DeCoite is being challenged by longtime activist Walter Ritte, also running as a Democrat. DeCoite, who operates L&R Farms growing sweet potatoes on Molokai, has been a strong supporter of farmers and agriculture of all types, and garnered funds for education, while supporting job creation efforts. Ritte, known statewide for battling for Native Hawaiian rights, water and sustainable agriculture, rejects tourism and development.
Three Molokai candidates are vying for the OHA Molokai seat: longtime incumbent Colette Machado, and hopefuls Luana Alapa and U’i Kahue-Cabanting. Machado, who has held office since 1996, has championed grassroots Hawaiian issues, and supports economic self-sufficiency, affordable housing and has opposed the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea.
Alapa, former Miss Hawaii, model, fashion instructor and businesswoman, wants to address the DHHL waitlist and create obtainable affordable housing for Native Hawaiians, along with what she calls corruption and unaccounted-for funding within OHA.
Kahue-Cabanting, a Hawaiian homesteader, micro-business owner and cultural practitioner, advocates for self-sufficiency, native rights, small businesses and education.
Two more Molokai candidates are up for election this year, but don’t appear on the Primary ballot. Because there are only two candidates for the Maui County Council Molokai seat — incumbent Keani Rawlins-Fernandez and former councilmember Stacy Helm Crivello — their names won’t be on the ballot until the General Election.
Though Aug. 8 is Primary Election Day, that is the deadline for the Elections Office to receive your ballot so if you’re mailing your ballot through the Postal Service, they strongly recommend that you mail it at least five days before that to ensure it arrives on time. You can also drop off your completed ballots in person at the Mitchell Pauole Center Conference Room July 27 through Aug. 7 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., excluding Sundays, and on Aug. 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If you are a registered voter and haven’t yet received your ballot in the mail, contact the Maui County Clerks Office at (808) 270-7749.