Monday, April 22, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Neither Jurisdiction Has Authority to Solve Hawaii County Election Problems
By News Release @ 5:49 PM :: 8237 Views :: Hawaii County , Akaka Bill, Energy, Environment

Hawaii State League of Women Voters Statement:

To ensure a smooth general election in Hawai‘i County and restore voter confidence, the Hawai`i State League of Women Voters recommends specific actions by the Hawai`i County Council and its Clerk, and an investigation by the State Elections Commission.

In a democracy, every vote matters: each vote is the choice of a unique individual about what kind of government s/he wants. Collecting and recording those votes gives meaning to democracy. Over the years, members of State and County Leagues of Women Voters throughout Hawai‘i have worked with many public officials who register voters and run elections. Members of the Hawai`i State League of Women Voters served on the 2002 Election Review Task Force, and in 2012 as in past elections our members have volunteered in polling places and the State Control and Counting Centers.

This year, we have been troubled by a number of serious issues on the island of Hawai‘i which cumulatively may have diminished voters’ confidence in the Hawai‘i County Elections Office.

We are concerned about an apparent lack of communication and transparency from the County Clerk with the press and public. Press conferences may have explained prior actions, but the time lag between actions and explanations fostered an air of mistrust. The State Elections Office complained about unreturned calls and emails to the County Elections Office. Staff terminations, unexpected leaves of absence, complaints of inadequate staffing, and miscommunications led to what one journalist called “chaos” on Primary Election Day. Hawai`i County and the State share responsibility for operation of elections on the Big Island.

According to state elections law (HRS 11-184), the County is responsible for voter registration, absentee ballots and operation of early voting locations; the State is responsible for hiring precinct officials for election day, monitoring election day operations, collection of walk-in ballots and tabulation of all ballots. Responsibility for some functions is not clearly specified in HRS 11. It is not clear that either jurisdiction has sufficient authority to resolve all the problems that surfaced in the Big Island primary election.

The Hawai‘i County Council met on August 20, and the Hawai‘i County Clerk provided her status report to the Council. The State Elections Commission also met on that day. There, the Chief Elections Officer provided his status report to the Commission. Members of the State League of Women Voters attended and presented comments at both meetings. Because of the media’s diligent reporting, the public learned that the County and State do not agree on the scope or causes of the election difficulties, or what can be done to prevent a recurrence.

With less than two months left until the general election, voters deserve a clear response to the primary day mishaps, one which restores faith in the conduct of elections in Hawai‘i County.

In a creative step toward such a response, State Chief Elections Officer Nago invited staff of the Hawaii County Office of Elections to a series of workshops provided by experienced elections staff in other counties. We applaud this positive strategy.

To ensure a smooth general election in Hawai‘i County, the Hawai`i State League of Women Voters:

1) Urges the Hawai`i County Council to ensure that all relevant Elections Office staff participate in the remaining workshops.

2) Urges the Hawaii County Council, in line with their responsibilities, to fully staff the Elections Division, and to assign undivided responsibility for County preparations for and conduct of the November voting process to someone with experience in successfully
managing elections.

3) Expects the County Clerk to comply with relevant legislation, including designating official political and press observers for the Big Island Counting Center, as required under HRS § 16-45. Public release of identities of observers would reassure the public
and media that the law is being implemented.

4) Recommends that the State Elections Commission, as required under HRS 11-8.5, conduct an investigation of the processes and actions that led up to the August 11 mishaps in Hawaii County, to apply to the November general election, prevent similar problems in future elections, and inform future efforts to clarify responsibilities among State and County Elections staff.

These steps would go a long way to restoring voter confidence.

The Big Island’s difficulties affect the entire state, not just that island, because the general election includes State and Federal candidates. The effects of a botched Hawai‘i County election in November could spread beyond the Big Island. Any questionable practices might generate candidate lawsuits, which are always costly to taxpayers. Hawai‘i could face intense scrutiny with plenty of people asking, “Why wasn’t the problem resolved?”

It’s not too late to prepare for smooth operation of the Big Island’s November election. Why risk a repeat of August’s problems, when something can be done about it?



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii