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State runs Hawaii island polls after primary problems

By Christopher Weber

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 2:16 a.m. HST, Nov 7, 2012

State elections officials are watching for problems at the polls in Hawaii County during today's election, taking over for county officials after widespread glitches that led to extended voting hours during the primary.

The state is operating a control and counting center in a state office building in Hilo.

Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago announced last month the state was rescinding the county's responsibility for the general election. County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi is still responsible for voter registration and absentee ballots.

During the August primary, Gov. Neil Abercrombie ordered polls on the Big Island to stay open 90 minutes later than originally planned after several locations opened late.

A state review one week after the primary said 13 out of 40 Big Island polling places opened late, most at least 30 minutes behind schedule and two at least one hour tardy.

The delays didn't change the election results but shook public confidence in the system, state officials said.

Kawauchi was criticized for her handling of the primary elections. She apologized but said some of the problems weren't her responsibility.

The primary day problems included unforeseen technical and operational problems, including equipment malfunctions and supplies being delivered late to polling places. The issues surfaced Aug. 11 after weeks of smaller problems leading up to the election.

It was the first time an entire county had hours at all its polls extended in Hawaii. In 1996, some polling places on Oahu had their hours extended because of bad weather.

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