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Clerk says she’s sorry for Big Isle primary polls opening late

August 17, 2012
The Maui News

Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi says she's sorry and takes responsibility for problems that led to primary polls on the Big Island opening late.

Kawauchi spoke Tuesday night at a meeting held by the Kona Tea Party, where she described primary day as "very intense."

She said many poll workers were unable to communicate with county election officers because cellphones they were issued weren't programmed with the correct phone numbers. She said her Kona office was late in delivering election materials to polls.

The state Office of Elections says 13 out of 40 Hawaii County polling places opened late on the day of primary elections last weekend.

Nine places opened at least 30 minutes behind schedule, including two that opened one hour and four minutes late.

The office said in a report released Thursday that the delays didn't change the election results. But the report said the irregularities unnecessarily undermined the public's confidence in the electoral system.

When Gov. Neil Abercrombie learned that more than half of polling stations on the island didn't open on time, he issued a proclamation to keep the polls open 90 minutes later on the island.

The report said state election office staff sent to Hilo to help troubleshoot problems witnessed poor planning, implementation and leadership by the county clerk.

The state said Kawauchi must rededicate herself to mastering election administration or surround herself with people who have election administration expertise.

The state elections office is conducting a review.



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