AP NEWS

Hawaii Democrats scrap in-person voting plan for primary

March 21, 2020 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Democratic party has scrapped plans for in-person voting during its party-run presidential primary on April 4 in favor of mailed ballots over concerns of the coronavirus, officials said Friday.

The party had always expected most members would vote by mail, and has already put two rounds of ballots in the mail. But the party had also planned to allow people to cast ballots at 21 voting sites on Election Day if they wanted. Voters would have been allowed to join the party that day.

Instead, the party will now send a third round of mailed ballots to everyone who newly registers to vote or joins the party by April 4.

The party won’t have the results until late May because it will need to mail the new round of ballots and wait to receive them after they have been filled out, said Kate Stanely, the interim chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

“While we regret the need to cancel the walk-in voting locations, health and safety comes first during this challenging time,” Stanley said in a statement.

“This third round of mail ballots will accommodate those who were planning to vote on election day by giving them the opportunity to vote by mail. However, we encourage everyone with a ballot now to mail it back as soon as possible in case there are further disruptions,” she said.

The party did away with the caucus system for this year’s presidential race, preferring to run its own primary.

The party is employing ranked voting, meaning voters select their top three choices for president.

Only candidates receiving at least 15% of the votes cast in a given congressional district will be allocated delegates. Votes for candidates who don’t receive at least 15% will be redistributed to voters’ second-ranked choices, starting with the candidate who received the lowest number of votes.

The outcome of the vote will determine the allocation of 24 delegates and two alternates to the Democratic National Convention.

Hawaii will have another nine automatic delegates, including Hawaii’s U.S. senators and representatives and other party leaders. The nine automatic delegates won’t vote on the first ballot at the national convention.

Hawaii Republicans canceled their presidential caucus after President Donald Trump was the only candidate to declare for the party ballot by a December deadline.