That’s the message Hawaii County voters received shortly before 4 pm on Thursday October 20, 2022.
What was supposed to be a relaxing afternoon of Drop Box Monitoring busywork exploded into a flurry of text messages from outraged Big Island voters sharing screenshots of BallotTrax messages thanking them for voting. “I haven’t even received my ballot!” was the message I read over and over. It’s true, ballots were only mailed a day or two ago, yet voters were alerted that their ballots had been received at the County and accepted for counting.
After the Office of Elections was flooded with calls from upset voters they sent out a followup message asking voters to “Please disregard the earlier notice”, as the “Thank you for voting” notice was sent in error.
How did this happen? It’s not like Hawaii residents haven’t lived through similar false alarms (think 2018 missile alert) but hey, that was nuclear war, and this is our elections for crying out loud! Did someone push the wrong button again? Did Ige forget his twitter password? Our government officials should have had these kinks worked out by now.
What is BallotTrax?
Hawaii contracted with BallotTrax starting with the 2022 elections in an effort to help Hawaii voters track their mail ballots. According to their website, BallotTrax is an “award-winning, patent-pending system which tracks mail ballot envelopes through the postal stream to the final destination at the election division. Through the simple web application, voters set up notification preferences, including language, delivery method and best times to be contacted. Voters can choose from email, text, and voice messaging”.
BallotTrax is used in several states and many all too familiar counties, including such 2020 rockstars as Cobb County Georgia and Wayne County Michigan.
BallotTrax tracking is an automated process using the ballot barcodes at all points of tracking to alert the voter during the ballot’s journey from the post office, to the voter, and back to the giant black hole called signature verification.
“By integrating with State and/or County election offices, print vendors and USPS, BallotTrax knows when a ballot has been printed and mailed to a voter, returned from a voter, received by the election office and accepted for counting by the election office.”
BallotTrax has only been around six years. There are some reports of issues in other states, such as outlined in this article from California; “Meant to clarify, BallotTrax confused some voters”, but nothing on the scale of Hawaii’s You Voted Even Though You Don’t Have Your Ballot Yet Nago-level incompetence (or maybe fraud?).
BallotTrax’s mission is to let voters know the whereabouts of their ballot “before they ask,” as its marketing slogan proclaims. With the help of the Office of Elections they can now add to their mission, “We count your vote before you receive your ballot”.
If the text alerts are linked to the ballot barcodes in an automated process, why would a voter receive an alert their ballot was ready to be processed for counting? Why did this affect some voters but not all? Is this incompetence or fraud?
Nago et al will likely claim human error or a computer glitch blah blah blah. The local news won’t press it and this will likely be swept under the rug. We are done going quietly. This incompetence+fraud (fraudcompetence) must be brought to light. We deserve an elections sytem that is accurate, transparent, and trustworthy.