The state Office of Elections said at a press conference this morning that it would be taking over the operations of the November general election in Hawaii County because of a lack of confidence in the county clerk.
The state will administer the operation of polling places, the control center, and the county elections office accounting center. Hawaii County will continue to handle voter registration and absentee voting. The state office of elections informed Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi this morning that it would take this unprecedented move.
State chief election officer Scott Nago said in a statement the Office of Elections would be rescinding its delegation of state responsibilities to Hawaii County.
“We believe that this decision best ensures a successful general election in the County of Hawaii,” Nago said. “It will allow the county to focus its resources exclusively on voter registration and absentee voting.”
According to the elections office, the move is meant to address the issues of polling place communication and timely delivery of supplies to polling places. Nago emphasized in his statement that the change will be transparent to Big Island voters and poll workers.
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The state has located a control center and a counting center in the Hilo State Office Building. Ballot Operations Section Head Lori Tomczyk will be the State’s lead administrator. In primary election, Tomczyk provided support for state election operations in Hilo.
Missteps and irregularities in the primary election led to 13 precincts opening late, prompting Gov. Neil Abercrombie to issue a proclamation to extend Hawaii County’s voting hours by 90 minutes. The move resulted in a statewide delay in the release of initial primary election results.
Prior to the takeover announcement, Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi told the Star-Advertiser in a story published today that while she accepted some responsibility for the handling of the primary election, she could not "accept complete responsibility." She also said she was pressing ahead and that the general election on Nov. 6 would go smoothly.