Voter registration deadline today

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HILO — Time is running out if you want a say in who’s going to be the next mayor, or who will fill any number of federal, state and local seats up for grabs on the primary election ballot.

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HILO — Time is running out if you want a say in who’s going to be the next mayor, or who will fill any number of federal, state and local seats up for grabs on the primary election ballot.

Thursday at 4:30 p.m. is the deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 13 primary.

Elections officials are making it even easier to register to vote, with two days of drive-thru registration Wednesday and Thursday. Residents can register to vote without even leaving their car from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Hilo Bayfront, the Kona Kmart or the Malama Market in Pahoa.

To be eligible to register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, a Hawaii resident and at least 18 years of age. Registered voters who have changed their name or moved since the last election should re-register before the voter registration deadline.

The number of registered voters on Hawaii Island is steadily climbing, county Elections Administrator Pat Nakamoto said Monday. So far, 109,669 people have registered to vote, compared to 103,734 prior to the 2014 primary.

“It is important to register and vote in the primary election if you want to be a part of nominating candidates to run in the general election,” Nakamoto said.

Some people can win their seat outright and not worry about campaigning for November.

“In Hawaii County if any county candidate receives a majority of votes in the primary election, they will be elected and will not appear on the general election ballot,” she added. “That should be an important reason for voters to vote in the primary election. They may not have an opportunity to vote for their county candidates in the general election.”

Ballots seem more crammed than usual this election year, probably because of an open mayoral seat — Mayor Billy Kenoi is term-limited and can’t run this year — and the influence of populist candidates such as the Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump.

Hawaii doesn’t have a presidential primary. The state’s four electoral votes instead go to candidates selected by the party caucuses. But Sanders’ and Trump’s influence can still be inspiring local candidates, said Todd Belt, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

“There are a lot more candidates running for office in general, possibly because of the influence of these outside candidates,” Belt said.

There are 13 nonpartisan mayoral candidates running. Also on the primary ballot are partisan U.S. and state House candidates and nonpartisan County Council candidates who must run every two years. U.S. and state Senate seats and other local races round out the ballot.

There are some 27 satellite voting sites around the island. Would-be voters can call 961-8277 to find the closest one.

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Ballots have already gone out to 91 overseas voters, a significant increase from the 19 overseas absentee ballots that went out for the 2014 primary.

Wikiwiki voter registration forms are also available at U.S. post offices, public libraries, yellow pages, Office of Elections website at hawaii.gov/elections and most state agencies.

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