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Big Island officials question handling of election

  • Bruce Omori
    August 15
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KAILUA-KONA >> Officials on the Big Island are asking why the results of Hawaii’s primary election weren’t thrown out.

West Hawaii Today reported that local officials are pressing for details on how the general election will be handled.

They’re concerned about Puna, which is threatened by a lava flow. It’s the same area that was hit hard by Tropical Storm Iselle right before Hawaii’s primary.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman said election officials were "absurdly out of touch" with the situation in Puna after the storm, which downed hundreds of trees and cut power lines.

Some polling stations in the area were closed on Election Day because of the damage. Others remained open, which critics say was a poor decision.

Ruderman says it’s inexcusable that election officers changed direction with little notice on how the region’s residents would cast their votes.

"We gave people a change in official notification, (with just) three days’ notice," Ruderman said. "That’s not fair. I can’t believe that it’s legal."

County Clerk Stewart Maeda said once the election was underway, only the governor could extend voting hours.

"In hindsight, we probably would have closed those polling places (in other parts of Puna) as well," Maeda said.

Ruderman and Councilwoman Brenda Ford asked Maeda to consider doing only mail-in ballots for the upcoming General Election.

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