What Do Some Hawai‘i Voters Stick into Their Ballot Envelopes?

Sometimes they include notes, apologies and random surprises.


Ballot2 Photo Robbie Dingeman

State elections officials keep a file of what voters tuck into their ballot envelopes. Photo: Robbie Dingeman


Each election, some Hawai‘i voters mail in their ballots with a little something extra tucked into the envelope. Many include notes offering kind words: thanks, an explanation, or an apology for hard-to-read handwriting. Other enclosures seem pretty quirky.


Veteran elections observer Dennis Kam jokingly refers to them as “love notes,” and that’s definitely true of some. This one arrived on bright yellow paper: “Please excuse messy ballot. Mom is 93, in late stages of Parkinson’s Disease. Mentally she is sharp. —Daughter.”


Another showed up on hot pink note paper: “Aloha, my signature is a scribble. If you need verification, I’ll come in with my ID. Mahalo!” One of this year’s funnier ones: “Sorry, dog chewed up this.”


With more than 400,000 ballots mailed in for the general election, the number of voter notes remains pretty modest, with fewer than 50 items gathered by the state Office of Elections during the ballot opening process at the state Capitol.


SEE ALSO: A Record Turnout for Hawai‘’s First All By-Mail Ballot Serves Up an Exciting, Sleep-Deprived (Yet Satisfying) Good Time


A neatly handwritten note said simply: “Please do not toss out my vote. At age 96, unable to duplicate my signature you have on file.” Another daughter wrote a note to explain that her father couldn’t sign his name as the result of a stroke so she signed for him so his vote would count. She could do that by having her father make a mark in the signature block then she completed the bottom portion with her information as a witness to his mark.


Some things arrive without comment. One voter dropped in holiday discount passes from Macy’s, while another enclosed Subway coupons. One envelope contained a penny.


Some people just want to get everything done at once: “To Whom It May Concern. This was sent to my old address. It’s a good thing the people living there are my relatives. Please update my address in your system.” Note to voters: This IS NOT the way to change your address for voter registration. Instead, go to elections.hawaii.gov or the County Elections Division.


This year’s enclosures included —ewwww!­—a floss pick (here’s hoping it was unused), as well as a membership invite from the National Air and Space Museum and a “Dear Fellow Patriot” questionnaire. There was also a Happy Holidays card.


Some make you wonder. One man sent in his vaccine confirmation paperwork. Another included a straight pin. And if you live in the Punchbowl area and are wondering where you put your proof of insurance cards for your 1999 Dodge pickup, we suggest you request a new copy because the two cards you mailed in will get packed up in the state’s election files with the other notes for months to come.


Dog Note

Another note from a voter. Photo: Robbie Dingeman