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March 2001

March-April 2001

Sandy Beach Open Space to be Preserved
Vote Count (Arlene Ellis)
President's Message (Pearl Johnson)
Action Alert
Committee Reports (Charles Carole)
Annual Meeting
Highlights of the Election
Welcome Returning Members
Confronting the CHAD (Jean Aoki)

Confronting the CHAD

Had enough of chads for a while? Well, voters in Honolulu will be dealing with chads again very soon - this time for the Neighborhood Board (NB) elections.

In this election, the punch card ballot type used is the pre-scored ballot. Mr. Elwin Spray who is in charge of the NB elections tells me that each chad has 16 points of attachment to the ballot card. You push out the chads by using a sharp instrument like a pencil or pen, breaking the attachment points.

So now you have the marvelous opportunity to experiment with chads to really understand what some of the furor was about in the Florida elections. Common sense tells us that unless you aim the instrument of choice at the exact center of the chad, exerting equal pressure on the 16 attachment points, you're going to end up with a hanging chad. The more off-center you aim the tool, the more likelihood that more attachment points are left unbroken ?? the less light will show.

After you have determined for whom you're voting, experiment a little. Try moving a hanging chad back into the hole. You can see that it looks different from those that haven't been punched at all. Touch it ever so lightly with the point and it will swing open readily. Using the same slight pressure, try touching another chad that hasn't been punched and you will see that nothing happens. Then when you actually punch out another chad, consciously check to see how much pressure is needed. You will see that chads aren't knocked out inadvertently as easily as some of the stories out of Florida seemed to indicate.

The Florida experience does not worry us. Dimpled or pregnant chads? That doesn't seem to be a problem here because we only have pre-scored ballots for home use - the vote-by-mail system for Neighborhood Board elections. I hold my ballot up and punch it so that there is no obstruction in the back. We don't seem to have the problems encountered by voters in some of the counties in Florida. For example, Florida voters place the ballots in some gadget and punch out the chads with a stylus that must go through the ballot and some hole in the gadget. And there were the problems caused by the lack of proper cleaning and maintenance of the gadgets. The biggest spin coming out of the Florida elections? That dimpled chads are caused by voters beginning to punch the ballot and then deciding not to vote at all. I can see a few people doing that, but hundreds?

Here in Hawaii, election workers clean the ballots by using tweezers to pull out hanging chads and even those, which aren't hanging but obviously have been punched. Loose chads knocked off by the ballots rubbing against each other in the counting machines can clog the machines and delay the count, and besides some of the legitimate votes might not be counted. We worked on the NB ballots for a few elections, and I'll never forget the sight of vertical rows of hanging chads, each with a dot in the center made by the pen or pencil used, like so many eyes glaring at us. These we plucked off the chads with tweezers.

The intent of the voter is respected in Hawaii, as long as it is clear. Even the absentee ballots in the state elections, which are of the optical scanning type, are remarked by election workers without obliterating the original marks of the voters if the voter uses a pen or pencil that cannot be read by the scanners. The chief reason for an absentee ballot's rejection in Hawaii is the failure of the voter to sign the outer envelope. The signature is essential in verifying the eligibility of the voter and the legitimacy of that particular ballot.

Coming soon!

Neighborhood Board elections. Participate in the elections. And check out those chads. Your vote will count and be counted.

Jean Aoki

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