Concerns Of Voter Intimidation Raised In Cachola Victory

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

Veteran lawmaker Romy Cachola defeated political newcomer Nicole Velasco by just 120 votes for the state House District 30 seat on Saturday.

Had it not been for mail-in absentee ballots, however, Velasco would be the representative-elect for the Sand Island-Kalihi-Honolulu airport area.

Now, Civil Beat has learned that Cachola may have played a direct role in ensuring at least some of those ballots were filled out in his favor.

Cachola won 51 percent to 46 percent. Because there are no opponents in the general election, the Democrat was elected to the House outright in the primary.

But if only Election Day and early walk-in votes had been counted, Velasco would have won in a landslide, 60 percent to 36 percent.

In fact, Cachola, 74, a term-limited member of the Honolulu City Council who served in the House from 1984 to 2000, was more dependent on mail-in absentee voting than any candidate in any primary race across the state.

According to a Civil Beat analysis, more than 70 percent of those who voted for Cachola in the Democratic primary against Velasco did so via a mail-in ballot. That was by far the highest percentage in Hawaii.

Of the 280 other primary candidates, only one even eclipsed 55 percent — Tiffany Au, a Republican who ran unopposed in House District 26 and now faces Democrat Scott Saiki in the general election.

In all, 41 percent of votes cast were mail-in votes, placing Cachola's 70 percent figure in even sharper contrast.

Now, Cachola's role in generating those mail-in votes is being talked about in some corners of Kalihi.

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