The Campaign Spot

A Vote-by-Mail Election in Hawaii?

Republican victories in Hawaii are rare but not impossible, as Gov. Linda Lingle demonstrates. And the NRCC liked the chances of its candidate in the Aloha State’s 1st congressional district, Charles Djou, even before the incumbent, Neil Ambercrombie, announced he would resign the seat early to run for governor.

Now it looks like there might be a special election under a slightly different format:

Conducting a special election at polling booths to fill Abercrombie’s seat representing the 1st Congressional District before the September primary may not be economically feasible. The state Office of Elections is expected to end the fiscal year on June 30 with a $12,000 budget deficit. Kevin Cronin, the outgoing chief elections officer, said the last special election to fill the vacancy, stemming from the death of Patsy Mink in 2002, cost about $2 million.

Cronin said one way to deal with the problem is to conduct an election by ballots to be mailed in or dropped off at central locations to reduce costs. That system was used successfully in April to conduct a special election in Windward Oahu to replace the late Barbara Marshall on the City Council.

The GOP is on a relative hot streak in special elections, and they might have a slight advantage in an election under new rules and circumstances like this one. (This presumes that worthwhile checks against vote fraud are in place.) I was stunned to read that “even with Barack Obama on the ballot last year, the U.S. Census Bureau showed only 51.8 percent of eligible voters participated — lowest in the nation.”

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