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Turnout in Hawaii Special Already Approaching 30 Percent

Almost 30 percent of voters have already turned in their ballots in Hawaii’s 1st district special election. Given that ballots were mailed out 10 days ago and are due on May 22, the turnout is already relatively high for a special contest, which in general are low-turnout affairs.

About 90,000 ballots have been returned out of just over 317,000 that were mailed to registered voters, according to Hawaii elections office spokesman Rex Quidilla.

The city of Honolulu held two special elections for City Council seats that implemented the same mail-in voting system last year. In those elections, turnout was between 41 percent and 45 percent, according to Honolulu Elections Administrator Glen Takahashi.

Only about 95,000 people voted in the 2008 primary, in which then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie was not challenged for a 10th term. Earlier this year, Abercrombie resigned his seat to run for governor, and election officials decided to hold a vote-by-mail special election to fill the vacancy.

The race in the Honolulu-based district has been unpredictable at times with two Democrats, former Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, and one Republican, Charles Djou, splitting the vote in what has historically been a reliable district for Democrats. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Monday morning that they would stop spending money on the race — essentially admitting they see little path to victory with the Democratic vote split.

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