State aims for polling place in Puna district

HILO (AP) — State election officials aim to open a primary election day polling place in the Big Island district hit hardest by Kilauea volcano’s monthslong eruption.

Chief Election Officer Scott Nago told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald his office was in the process of establishing a spot in Pahoa for the Aug. 11 primary.

Last month, after the eruption destroyed hundreds of homes, Nago said voters in two precincts would only be able to vote by absentee ballot. He said there would be no in-person voting on the day of the election for these two precincts in the Puna district.

But that move came under criticism from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a candidate for governor, local lawmakers and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii.

Nago said Thursday the eruption has changed, enabling the state to adjust plans.

“We’re in contact with Civil Defense, we understand the situation has stabilized,” he said.

The polling place would be a joint location for the two precincts. Nago said a location hadn’t been selected yet but he was “pretty confident” it would happen.