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State will send 9-person staff to run Hawaii County election

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The state Office of Elections has assembled a staff of nine in Hilo to administer Tuesday’s general election in Hawaii County, state Chief Election Officer Scott Nago said this week.

Nago had announced on Oct. 2 that the state was taking control of most general election operations in Hawaii County because he felt County Clerk Jamae Kawa­uchi — running an election for the first time — had not prepared an adequate plan to prevent a repeat of mistakes that happened during the Aug. 11 primary.

Nago said Tuesday that Lori Tomczyk of his office will head a staff of eight Hawaii island residents hired for the general election. Nago said those hired have experience with elections and that some are former county clerk’s employees. Tomczyk is head of the state’s ballot operations section and was a monitor in Hawaii County for the primary.

The state will operate out of the makai courtroom in the State Office Building in Hilo, Nago said. State staff will run the control center and counting center, and manage operations at polling places, including getting the correct registered-voter logs, ballots and other materials there on time.

The county retains responsibility for voter registration and absentee voting.

More than a dozen precincts in Hawaii County opened late during the primary election, prompting Gov. Neil Abercrombie to issue an emergency proclamation that extended voting hours.

"We’ve been running elections for many, many years," Nago said. "We know what works and what doesn’t work. We’re going back to what works."

Elections operations statewide are fully staffed, Nago said, with about 3,000 people scheduled to work Tuesday at 250 precincts and at counting centers. Final training for staff was held Monday night.

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