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Abercrombie wants all mail-in voting, probe of Elections Office

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    People wait in line for paper ballots at Holy Trinity School in the late afternoon of Tuesday

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has asked the state attorney general to investigate the Office of Elections and says he will propose an all mail-in voting system for Hawaii in the wake of the paper ballot shortage that led to long lines of frustrated voters at scores of Oahu polling places this month.

“This January, I will be proposing as part of my legislative package a measure to move our state toward 100 percent mail-in voting, which has been effective in other parts of the country. Moreover, absentee ballots have seen a steady increase and use over the last several elections, and there has been no evidence to question the accuracy and security of these ballots relative to traditional methods,” Abercrombie said in a statement issued this afternoon.

“I have also asked Attorney General David Louie to investigate the State Office of Elections and the circumstances that resulted in a shortage of paper ballots at numerous Oahu polling places on Nov. 6. This serious problem has tarnished the election process and eroded public confidence.”

The statement noted that the governor’s office does not have authority to oversee the Office of Elections. But, he said, “we must ensure that our voting process runs smoothly and efficiently.”

“I do not plan to simply stand on the side and wait to see what the Office of Elections’ own review may bring. At a minimum, we must consider new technologies that can help bring our election process into the 21st Century,” he said.

On Election Day, 70 polling places on Oahu either ran short or ran out of paper ballots, forcing hundreds of residents to wait for hours to vote. Witnesses reported many voters gave up and left the lines. In all, 24 polling places on Oahu ran out of ballots. One on Kauai and two on Hawaii island also ran short.

Chief Election Officer Scott Nago has apologized, saying that the office did not order the proper amount of paper ballots for certain polling places.

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