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State elections panel plans to study ballot-shortage 'fiasco'

By Mary Vorsino

LAST UPDATED: 02:04 p.m. HST, Nov 27, 2012

The state Elections Commission opted not to fire or discipline Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago after meeting today and instead will form a subcommittee to study major problems in the general election.

Commission Chairman William Marston said the subcommittee, made up of two commission members, will report its findings at a meeting in January. He said the report will guide the commission in making any next steps.

"We want to be sure that whatever we do, we cover all our bases," he said. "We just want more answers."

Asked whether Nago should be worried about his job, Marston replied, "I don't know."

The commission met for about an hour in executive session after nearly two hours of discussion and testimony on the problems seen during the general election.

Much of the concern revolved around a paper ballot shortage on Oahu.

Over the course of the morning, several testifiers urged the commission to sack Nago.

State Sen. Sam Slom, whose district includes Hawaii Kai, told the commission a "simple apology" won't suffice.

"This erodes the confidence in the public. It makes them angry and it cries out for action," he said. "I would urge you today to take strong decisive actions, expediting your internal review, and replcacement of current leadership."

On Nov. 6, at least 51 Oahu polling places ran short or ran out of paper ballots. Hundreds of voters had to wait hours to cast a ballot, and many left polling places rather than waiting.

As he has said previously, Nago told the commission this morning that the ballot problems occurred because of a miscalculation over how many ballots were needed.

"Our responses should have been better. We should have had reserve ballots out in the field," he said. "We should have been able to cope with it much better than we did."

Commission members appeared unsatisfied with Nago's explanation of how the ballot problems occurred, and several expressed anger at the scope of ballot shortages.

"If you've got 100,000 voters, you order 100,000 ballots," said Commission member Danny Young, who described the voting problems as a "fiasco."

Commission member Xara Marshall said she doesn't understand "why it's not possible to" provide enough ballots. 

"It's going to lead to a lack of voter confidence," she said.

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poidragon wrote:
This all happened on Scott Nago's watch and he should be held accountable for everything that has occurred! Up to and including dismissal from the position of Elections Cheif; to say that this undermines the public's trust in safe and secure state and federal elections, is an understatement, lucky for Mr. Nago is that none of the election races outcomes were close enough to be affected by the lack of ballots! As for Gov Abercrombie's idea of allo mail balloting, while it has some merit, there are going to be many more complications in bringing such a system to fruition; but it also leaves the door open to election/voter fraud, ballot box stuffing and even counterfeit balloting. Then there is the problem of the homeless, who have no permanent mailing address, but who are still able and wiling to vote...................
on November 27,2012 | 12:39PM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
I agree with poidragon, the system is not deficient, it is the person who administers the system, Scott Nago, who is deficient. Abercrombie wants to change the system to an all mail in ballots because it is cheaper to conduct voting that way. Abercrombie has certainly changed from an ultra-liberal people oriented person to an ultra-conservative money for cronies Ben Cayetano person. One just has to observe Mr. Nago on T.V. these recent months to see that he is an incompetent, arrogant, pompous indifferent to the public government bureaucrat. Mr. Nago, not in person voting, needs to go.
on November 27,2012 | 04:47PM
Mythman wrote:
The Gov and AG have their hands full. I wonder if threats like when they were trying to fix KSBE will happen as the Gov and AG and his cabinet try to follow the legal path, eschewing the old ways of one hand washing the other?
on November 27,2012 | 12:48PM
Voter Supression in it glory. This is the way the Democratic Party tries to control people of Hawaii.
on November 27,2012 | 12:50PM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
King_Crabbe, I believe that Republicans, not Democrats, are vote suppressors. Abercrombie has turned into a Republican just like his idol Ben Cayetano.
on November 27,2012 | 04:49PM
gth wrote:
I think it's more incompetence, rather than a Democratic or Republican thing. Someone trying to save his .ss and his $$$ salary.
on November 27,2012 | 01:01PM
GeoDiva wrote:
Agree....Scott Nago needs to be fired. The buck stops at him.
on November 27,2012 | 01:04PM
loquaciousone wrote:
It's so comforting to see our State and City officials act competently in handling our hard earned taxpayer dollars.
on November 27,2012 | 01:07PM
ValleyOhana wrote:
Wow, he fired his section chief without benefit of an investigation after she covered the Big Island for him and HE gets an investigation?! Unbelieveable. Is the Elections Commission afraid to lose him?! Unreal. One bungle after another. He suffers NO consequence.
on November 27,2012 | 01:12PM
kaleboy wrote:
Where is the justice, fire this scum bag.
on November 27,2012 | 01:37PM
f206 wrote:
Yet , this guy has the nerve to ask for the resignation of the woman who he sent to the Big Island to oversee the elections there and was responsible for making sure there was enough ballots on Oahu. Nago should be the one to resign. NO GUTS!!
on November 27,2012 | 01:13PM
Anonymous wrote:
Folks, it would be one thing if Nago were responsible for ordering the ballots. Was he ultimately responsible? Sure, because he runs the elections office. But, anyone in management or who owns their own business can tell you that this is what you hire managers for. There's no reason for him to fall on his sword if doing so isn't going to fix the problem. And to the pols who are complaining about how this "fiasco" is going to erode voter confidence: You should be more worried about voter APATHY. This ballot shortage incident will be a distant memory when the next election cycle rolls around, but we'll still have voter turnout in the low 40%'s.
on November 27,2012 | 01:33PM
inverse wrote:
What kind of person in charge would hire managers then not MEET with them before the elections to confirm with each manager how many ballots they have available and compare with the numbers of registered voters in each district. Either Na go is on medication and/or as a serious mental defect OR this was, as someone else mentioned, one way to get away with voter suppression. All of the districts that Cayetano would have been strong such as Windward Oahu and East Honolulu all had seriously deficient number of ballots. No one knows the TRUE outcome if such B S shenanigans was played on our election process. Just like Susan Rice who misled the nation on Benghazi on how it was not an act of terrorism but some spontaneous demonstration and now will be REWARDED with an attempt to make her Secretary of State. If this was NOT election shenanigans, Nago would have already been fired as consistent with how the Big Island person in charge of voting was fired for "incompetence".
on November 27,2012 | 02:11PM
Anonymous wrote:
The voter suppression scenario is a conspiracy theory if I've ever heard one. Hundreds of voters had to wait for more ballots to arrive at their polling places. Even if ALL of those hundreds of people decided not to wait around and skipped voting, their hundreds of votes (assuming they would've all voted for Ben) wouldn't have made a difference. Cayetano lost by thousands. So, the three possible explanations according to you, are: medication, serious mental defect, voter suppression. Very good. I'll agree that he is the beneficiary of leniency that he didn't grant the woman who ran the Big Island voting, but she reported to him, and he reports to another entity that was willing to keep him on the job.
on November 27,2012 | 02:20PM
inverse wrote:
You have NO clue what the effects of the extremely long voter lines and the exact number of voters who were turned away. I checked and Cayetano received 134,690 and Caldwell 157,650 for a difference of 22,960. You claim "hundreds", but if the long lines, which some did started BEFORE 12pm. The number of disenfranchised voters who just turned away could have easily reached one thousand over the span 6 or more hours until the polls closed late in the afternoon. 1,000 multiplied by 19 districts is 19,000 which is about the margin of spread that Cayetano lost to Caldwell. I was NOT serious about Nago being mentally impaired as I see him being interviewed on television and he is NOT stoo pid, and sounds quite intelligent. The other question is why in previous elections where Nago was in charge that ballot shortages did NOT occur, only in this election? When someone is new on the job that is when they make the MOST mistakes. Not the opposite in which he was new he did a pretty competent job and then many years later allows such a MAJOR widespread mistake to be made.
on November 27,2012 | 02:46PM
ichiban wrote:
IRT Inverse--i agree. Ever wonder why Pres. Obama chose Susan Rice as his candidate for Sec. of State? Maybe because she acted as the shield to take the flack for the Benghazi attack. Bad intelligence report led to a critical non-action at the embassy that led to the deaths of several US citizens, including the ambassador. This is a scenario similar to Pres. G.W. Bush and the search for WMD. Too bad Bush didn't have someone like Susan Rice as shield. Maybe Mr. Nago is acting as a shield for someone. He might get appointed to a higher position where his actions won't create such disruption.
on November 27,2012 | 04:56PM
inverse wrote:
PS: Like PRP all of the rest of the rail special interest knows there are literally over 7 BILLION reasons why someone would attempt to manipulate the last election, especially the mayoral election, on Oahu and NOT get caught byclaiming an "honest" boo boo.
on November 27,2012 | 02:14PM
jankenpo wrote:
The elections committee cannot discipline Nago. Even if they do in order to pacify the public, they got him covered. Nago got instructions from someone way above his and their pay grades to short the specific precincts. Don't take no chances....It was extremely necessary to have obtain a certain outcome. I'm not mentioning names because you won't be able to trace anything to the U.S. Senate. No one screws up this bad especially after trashing Kawauchi on the Big Island. Everything else now is just shibai.
on November 27,2012 | 02:14PM
inverse wrote:
Agree. Cayetano should protest the results of the election before the deadline passes to file a grievance.. Even if it does not change the outcome, It will get the attention of the Feds, including all non-Hawaii congressional representatives and what is going on with the Oahu rail project. The Feds investigated Blagojevich in Chicago and eventually he was found guilty and had to spend some time in prison. It is time the Feds to investigate not only the election process in Hawaii but the WHOLE Oahu rail project.
on November 27,2012 | 02:23PM
lowtone123 wrote:
"It's going to lead to a lack of voter confidence," she said. Sorry, we're already there.
on November 27,2012 | 02:37PM
false wrote:
WIth all this a friends of mine told me that's why they don't vote. Is this what they mean by it wouldn't make a difference? I hope not.
on November 27,2012 | 03:32PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Your friends don't vote because they are LAZY! They whine and cry but don't make the effort to try and make a difference.
on November 27,2012 | 06:11PM
64hoo wrote:
the real reason why there was not enough ballots is because people who have green cards that work here are not us citizens and can't vote, but they did. thats why there was a shortage of ballots. its called voter fraud.
on November 27,2012 | 05:06PM
sailfish1 wrote:
If the "not us citizens" voted, that means there is a serious problem with the elections office. Aren't they supposed to insure that voters are eligible to vote
on November 27,2012 | 06:09PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Nago is an incompetent and arrogant fool. Fire him already!
on November 27,2012 | 06:12PM
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