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13 of 40 Hawaii County precincts opened late on Election Day

A new report says the snafus do not invalidate the election

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 6:19 p.m. HST, Aug 16, 2012

Thirteen of the 40 precincts on Hawaii County opened late for Saturday's primary, but the delays and other irregularities do not appear legally sufficient to change the election results, according to a new report by the state's chief election officer.

Most of the 13 precincts that opened after the scheduled 7 a.m. start of voting were in operation within a half hour, according to the report, issued today, while two did not open until nearly an hour later and two did not finally open until 8:40 a.m.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued a proclamation extending the vote in Hawaii County by 90 minutes in response to the delays.

“The public’s confidence in our elections was rocked by this election proclamation, which normally is only issued when a natural disaster or emergency occurs,” the report states. “The governor did not lightly issue this proclamation and under the circumstances, he arguably had no other choice than to protect the rights of the voters, if the county clerk’s general representations to (the) attorney general were correct.”

The Office of Elections conducted the investigation after Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi failed to provide a detailed account of what happened during the primary.

While the state concluded that the irregularities were not enough to change the election results, the report found that Kawauchi undermined public confidence in the election.

“As for the question of whether the conduct of the county clerk unnecessarily undermined the public’s confidence in our electoral system, the answer is unfortunately yes, for the reasons previously noted,” the report states. “This cannot be allowed to happen again. The county clerk must rededicate herself to mastering election administration or at the very minimum to surround herself with individuals with expertise in election administration. Additionally, the county clerk must work on learning to communicate effectively and in a timely manner to other members of the election community and to the public as a whole.”

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