While candidates make their final push for votes, state elections officials are crossing their fingers that all goes smoothly during Saturday's primary elections -- despite some potential bumps in the road.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and will close at 6 p.m. However, voters who are in line at 6 p.m. and haven't voted will be allowed to cast ballots, said Maui County Clerk Jeffrey Kuwada.
"They won't be chased away," he said.
Voters should bring identification such as driver's licenses with a photos of themselves. However, other documentation, such as a current government-issued document with a voter's name and address, a utility bill, a bank statement or a paycheck -- all current -- may be used in the absence of photo identification.
There are 84,042 Maui County voters registered to cast ballots Saturday, slightly less than the 84,386 registered in the 2010 primary election, Maui County elections officials said Friday.
The first potential problem stems from this being Hawaii's first-ever primary vote in August, a change that could catch voters off guard if they haven't been paying attention to the scheduling of an earlier voting date.
Previously, state law called for primary elections to be held on the third Saturday in September, but lawmakers changed the state's primary election date to the second Saturday in August to give election officials more time to mail general election ballots to uniformed and overseas voters.
Federal law requires at least 45 days, and the state law was enacted, effective January 2011, to conform to the federal statute.
And, there's possible voter confusion from the change of location for more than half a dozen precincts in Maui County alone. The changes move Maui voters from:
-- Honolua Methodist Church (the former location) to the Lahaina Civic Center (the current location).
-- The Velma McWayne Santos Community Center (the former Wailuku Community Center) to the Baldwin High School cafeteria. (The community center is closed for renovations.)
-- Kula Elementary School to the Kula Community Center.
-- Haiku Elementary School cafeteria to the Haiku Community Center.
-- Keanae Elementary School to Hana High and Elementary School.
-- Waikapu Community Center to Pomaikai Elementary School cafeteria.
-- Wailuku Elementary School cafeteria to Iao Intermediate School.
Maui County elections officials sent out letters to all affected voters to tell them of the change in polling locations, and the voters were provided with absentee ballot applications.
The state Office of Elections' website also has a "polling place locator." It can be found at elections2.hawaii.gov/ppl/.
Lastly, there's concern among voting officials statewide about reported staffing turmoil in the Hawaii County elections office. Hawaii News Now reported this week that two of four full-time election staffers at the Big Island's elections office went out sick this week, and a temporary employee resigned Wednesday, calling the office "dysfunctional."
However, Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi told the Honolulu TV station that: "We're fine. We're doing OK."
Kuwada said the Big Island elections office situation has the "potential to result in delays" statewide because elections officials do not release results until all polls are closed and all voters have cast their ballots.
"I hope everything goes well in all of the counties," he said.
Kuwada said he understands that the Hawaii County clerk has trained replacements ready to step in to replace employees who won't be working Saturday.
And, "we can only take her at her word," he said.
Kuwada said Maui County is nearly fully staffed to handle elections on Saturday. He would not venture a guess at when the first election results would be announced.
"All kinds of unusual things occur on Election Day," he said. "We need to deal with them. Hopefully, the results will be released in a timely fashion."
To speed lines at polling places, Kuwada recommended that voters take the time to make their decisions on candidates beforehand. Voters can find a facsimile of their ballots online on the state Office of Elections website.
Anyone with questions also may call Maui County elections officials at 270-7749.