Polls open at 7 a.m. today

HILO — Today Hawaii County voters will help choose a president, a U.S. senator and a congressional representative, decide who will be their mayor and county prosecutor for the next four years and pick from among a roster of candidates for the state Legislature, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the County Council. They’ll also be faced with two proposed amendments to the state constitution and six proposed amendments to the county charter.

Almost 30,000 of Hawaii County’s 104,323 registered voters had already voted by the early walk-in voting deadline Saturday. According to the county Elections Division, 9,502 voters opted for early walk-in voting, and 20,019 mail-in ballots had been received.

But for those waiting until today to cast their votes, here are a few tips: Polls open at 7 a.m. today and close after the last person in line by 6 p.m. has voted. Mail-in absentee ballots may be dropped off at any polling place or hand-delivered to the Hilo Elections Division office in the county building by 6 p.m. today. Today is a state and county holiday, so other government offices will be closed. County buses will be running their regular daily schedule, however. If you’re unsure of your polling place, the state Office of Elections has provided this polling place locator: elections2.hawaii.gov/ppl/ Voters who have questions or are experiencing problems on Election Day can call the state Office of Elections toll-free at (800) 442-8683 or the county Elections Division at 961-8277, said Lori Tomczyk, who’s been assigned to oversee Hawaii County elections on behalf of the state.

The state took over the elections after the county experienced so many problems during the primary that Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued an emergency proclamation keeping polls open an extra 90 minutes in Hawaii County. Problems ranged from late poll openings to communications glitches, as County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, a novice to elections, attempted to keep the process moving in the face of the absence of more than half the permanent Elections Division employees.

Tomczyk is predicting a smooth General Election, however. The state has set up an election control and counting center in the state building in Hilo.

“The preparations are going very well. … We’re in a pretty good place,” Tomczyk said late last week.

“I feel very confident that we’ll do well on Election Day.”